L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Nowhere to go: City’s homeless left out in the cold
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, January 6

A boy sells knick-knacks to eke out a living on a busy traffic chowk in Ludhiana on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

When the rich curse the intermittent power outages for not being able to switch on their heating appliances, hundreds of shelterless people in the city spend the bone chilling nights under the open sky. The earth too fails to give them the much-required warmth, with the lone blanket available to them being grossly inadequate to prevent the icy winds from sending a shiver down their bodies.

With the state not coming to their assistance in any way, the homeless are left to fend for themselves in the bitter cold, braving the cruel vagaries of weather.

A Ludhiana Tribune team today caught up with several destitute and shelterless residents and families living below the poverty line, who are finding it difficult to cope with the biting cold. As the mercury continues to plummet these people have no means to keep themselves warm.

Ashwini Kumar, a 40-year-old labourer, is one among the hundreds of homeless people forced to spend the cold days and nights on the roadsides. Sitting besides a campfire, he was drying his pair of jeans above a fire. ‘‘My clothes are not drying and I don't have a spare pair. So I want them to be ready for wearing as soon as possible,’’ he said.

Gul Bahadur, another homeless man has come from Nepal and works as a waiter at wedding parties, said he had to sleep in the Major Bhupinder Singh park in front of the city’s mini secretariat, where many like him seek shelter in the open. ‘‘I’ve a blanket that was donated by a Good Samaritan, but it does not protect me from the chilly winds that blow every night. The fog and dew add to my misery.’’

A few spend night on a roadside to keep the cold at bay in Ludhiana on Wednesday
A few spend night on a roadside to keep the cold at bay in Ludhiana on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Both Ashwani and Gul said they could not rent a room, as they were too poor to spend even Rs 1,000 every month. ‘‘We cannot even buy sweaters for ourselves even from the flea market,’’ they said in unison.

Many like them were seen shivering, trying to cover themselves with dirty blankets, squatting on the roadside in front of the Durga Mata Mandir, Jagraon bridge and the railway station. A few of them even shouted at the Tribune team and avoided getting clicked. ‘‘We’re poor but that doesn’t mean you show our poverty to the world,’’ said a beggar who was covering himself in jute sacks as he did not have warm clothes to protect him from the cold.

While hundreds of people are homeless, there are several others who have a home to call their own but no means to ward away the cold. Jarnail Singh, a 52-year-old watchman and a resident of Salem Tabri who earns Rs 3,000 every month, said it was not possible for him to buy quilts or blankets for all the five members of his family. ‘‘My two daughters use a single quilt and so does my wife and my son. I don’t feel like returning to my poverty stricken home after a day’s hard work while guarding a parking lot, ’’ he said, adding “poverty was a misery whether it was cold or hot weather”.

Ram Avtar, a migrant worker, also had a similar story to narrate. Sharing a single room with his joint family, he has to sleep outside in the open. ‘‘I cannot do anything but suffer”, he rued, adding he covered his blanket with a tarpaulin sheet to escape from the dew.


No shelters yet

Though the district administration is yet to come up with a shelter for the destitute even after the state government recently announced such shelters would be set up, the police says at least it is considerate enough not to shoo the homeless away. ‘‘It would be too inhuman to force them to go away from the roadsides. They can stay put in this weather, ’’ said SSP SS Gill. Deputy commissioner Vikas Garg said there was no weather relief fund for the homeless in the state. AK Sharma, secretary of the Red Cross, said they could help a homeless person only if the latter was able to convince the DC about his or her poverty. ‘‘No such application has been put up with me this year, ’’ he said. The fact is that the poor do not even know about any such provisions. They just spend their lives as nobody’s children

Angels of mercy

While the state government has failed to provide any shelters to the homeless, there are good Samaritans who try to make the lives of the homeless a little more comfortable. A number of Ludhianvis give away food and other edibles to these unfortunate people everyday. There are others who give away used woolens and act as benefactors of the poor. One such person, who does not wish to be identified following the Biblical tenet- the left hand should not know what the right does -distributes blankets to the needy on pavements every winter. This octogenarian, who is an industrialist, is often seen doing this charitable work at nighttime. "I’m not doing anything for them. It gives me a satisfaction when I go back to my comfortable home feeling I added a little warmth to their life,’’ he remarks. Ludhiana Tribune hopes he acts as an inspiration for others who can help the poor.


Confusion over closure of schools
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
The lack of coordination between the state education department and district administration over the closure of schools in the district has not only caused a lot of furore over the past two days but also created a lot of confusion among the school authorities, students and parents, creating a lot of inconvenience to all parties invloved.

To open today

Putting an end to confusion over the the issue late on Wednesday, Ludhiana District Magistrate- cum-Deputy Commissioner Vikas Garg passed a fresh order directing all government and private schools of the district to open from Thursday even as primary schools will remain closed till January 8. The new order has come after the Punjab Education Minister had passed similar directions on Tuesday. The order will be implemented in all government as well as private schools, incliding CBSE and ICSE-affiliated schools of the district.

With no clear directions on the closure of schools in the district even today, students and parents faced a hard time even as various school authorities chose to adopt their own approach in the matter.

Not knowing whether the school was open or closed today, many students missed their classes, while others had to return as their schools were closed. There were yet others who reached late because most of the school buses, vans and other means of conveyance did not turn up to pick them up in the morning. Even after the schools were over, the school buses played truant.

Parents could be seen queuing up outside the schools to drop and pick children. Many students could also be seen walking down, taking richshaws or other modes of conveyance to reach their respective schools.

Sacred Heart closes

Following a complaint by an NGO against the school authorities for non-compliance of the District Magistrate's orders, Sacred Heart Convent, Sarabha Nagar, had late on Tuesday evening, declared complete closure till January 8. The school, though closed after the order, was holding practice sessions for an upcoming cultural event, for which students were asked to come to the school everyday for a few hours. However, in the wake of the DM's fresh order, the school on Wednesday announced reopening, except for the primary classes, from Thursday.

The situation was no different in government schools, all of which remained open. The staff was present in full strength, but students' attendance remained thin.

Interestingly, the Ludhiana District Magistrate-cum-Deputy Commissioner had, on Sunday, passed an order to close all city schools till January 8 in the wake of severe cold prevailing in the region for the past few days.

Following the order, some schools in the city closed down, while others decided to hold classes as per schedule, even as several others remained partially open. Last evening, education minister of Punjab Upinderjit Kaur had passed on order to open all schools barring the primary classes, which had been directed to close till January 8.

Schools that remained open today included DAV Public School, BRS Nagar, BVM (all branches). The ones that remained closed included KVM, Saraswati Model, St Bawra, Guru Nanak Public, Sacred Heart.



Tempo driver looted, killed by robbers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Robbers killed a driver of a goods carrier and fled with a tempo containing grocery items worth Rs 5 lakh from the Jalandhar road near Amaltas in the wee hours today. A passer by spotted the driver’s body tied to a tree along the road and raised an alarm. The deceased has been identified as Dinesh Kumar (27), a resident of Islam Ganj.

The head of the victim was badly smashed with some a heavy object. The body also bore wounds inflected by sharp-edged weapons.

The investigating officer said the victim owned a tempo and used to ferry grocery items of a shopping mall.

Staff of the Shopping mall said that he was seen loading grocery items in his vehicle last evening.

According to the police, the incident might have taken place in the morning, as the wounds on the body were relatively fresh.

According to the police, the robbers might have gagged the victim and then tied the body to the tree with a rope. Then, robbers might have mercilessly killed the victim before fleeing with the goods. The involvement of a close aide and residents of surrounding area has not been ruled out. Senior officer along with the dog squad and fingerprint experts reached the spot and began probing into the incident. Relatives of the victim were also informed about the incident.

Later, the body was taken to the local civil hospital for a post-mortem examination. Meanwhile, a case of murder and robbery has been registered against the accused.



Rape Case
Leader strips against police inaction 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
High drama was witnessed in front of the SSP office here today, when a local leader along with his close aide removed their clothes and staged a dharna against police inaction in a rape case. Shivcharan Sharma, who claims to be the state president of the Rashtrawadi Sena, shocked everyone when he along with his close friend Ramesh Chobay removed their clothes and began protesting at Focal Point for inaction in the alleged abduction and rape case of an 11-year-old.

Sharma, further alleged that Munna and Bittu, who were employed by a Sahnewal-based businessman, allegedly raped Ramesh’s sister. A rape case against the duo was also registered with the police in July, but till now no arrest had been made in the case, Sharma claimed.

He added that the servants were mounting pressure on Ramesh and even thrashed the latter at the behest of the police. Further, Munna and Bittu allegedly thrashed Sharma for helping Ramesh.

Sharma alleged that the in charge of the police station was not addressing his complaint.

According to sources, City SP Harsh Bansal called the agitating leader and his friend inside his office and reportedly assured them of timely action in the matter. 



‘False shortage’ of LPG irks consumers
Anshu Seth/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Irked over unscrupulous practices of the LPG dealers, who are showing “false shortage” of the LPG in order to sell their cylinders in black, consumers today took to streets to protest against gas agencies and their parent oil companies. Having failed to get the LPG supply even after 40 days of its booking, consumers have given formal complaints against agencies falling under their areas to the district food and civil supplies department.

Rameshwar Sinha, a consumer from Civil Lines, alleged, “As the LPG consumption is more in winter, a gap is created between demand and supply, but oil companies are aware of the fact and have made arrangements for surplus supply. It is their company officials, who in order to make easy money encourage dealers to sell their cylinders in black. A gas cylinder priced at Rs 325 is sold for Rs 500 or Rs 550.”

Reacting to the recent statement given by the LPG sales official, wherein the official had termed misuse of the domestic LPG for commercial purposes as the sole reason behind the shortage, another consumer Satish Bansal said, “Officials are hand in glove with dealers, as despite having the authority to check the misuse, they encourage dealers to create a shortage so as to sell the LPG in black.”

The fact that commercial consumers of the LPG are also facing shortage poses a question mark on the LPG dealers and authorities, who are citing “misuse of domestic LPG in commercial sector” as the reason behind the shortage.

Requesting anonymity, the owner of a dying unit in Ludhiana said, “In spite of having booked my cylinders on time, I have not been able to get the supply even after four days, as a result of which the work in my unit has come to a standstill.”

However, Naveen Talwar, spokesperson for the Ludhiana LPG Dealer Association said, “Misuse of the domestic LPG is prevalent in summer as well as winter, but the problem in winter occurs due to increase in consumption. Many a times people book their cylinders late as a result of which their supply is also delayed.”

The Hindu Jagriti Sena on Wednesday staged a dharna outside the Simran Gas Agency of Bharat Petroleum Corporation in Basti Jodhewal. Consumers of the domestic LPG are buying cylinders in black, as they have failed to get supply even after 30 days of its booking. Controller of the District Food and Civil Supplies (W) RK Bhaskar said he had already dispatched a team and stern action against culprits would be taken following the inquiry report.



Ticker installed outside LSE
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
For the convenience of hundreds or perhaps thousands of shareholders in the city, the Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE) has started providing information about shares on a ticker. With this latest facility, the shareholders can gather all necessary information regarding shares on the board outside the LSE without even entering the premises.

Providing details about the newly installed ticker, chairman of LSE Padam Prakash Kansal told The Tribune that more than a facility, it was a luxury provided to those interested in share investment. Just like the Mumbai stock exchange, people could get all information on this strip, which was installed recently.

He said the National Stock Exchange (NSE) sponsored the instillation of the ticker and the LSE had paid nominal charges.

Kansal said, "The LSE is now 10 years old. We want to achieve greater heights. With more than 160 active brokers, we aim to start trading equities in LSE itself, which till recently is being done in the LSE Securities- LSE Subsidiary Company.

The elections of the stock exchange are held every year and one third of the vacancies are filled every year".



Pension Issue of PAU Retirees
Contempt proceedings to be initiated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
The dilly dallying attitude of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) in paying pension has invited the ire of the university’s retirees, who have now decided to initiate contempt proceedings against the authorities for non-payment of pension for November and December 2009. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had passed an order to PAU to pay its pensioners regularly.

The decision was taken during the monthly meeting of the PAU Pensioners’ Welfare Association held on the university campus today. Dr SS Johl, eminent economist and former vice-chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, was the chief guest.

Expressing resentment over the issue, the pensioners criticised the PAU authorities for passing the buck onto the Punjab Government with regard to payment of pension.

They decided not to approach the state government in the matter, rather take action against the university authorities. Johl supported the pensioners, wholeheartedly in their decision to initiate contempt proceedings against PAU.

“Pension is logically and legally, the first charge on the budget of PAU and salary comes next,” said Johl, adding that the pensioners were likely to get an instant relief as and when the court was approached through an appropriate contempt petition.

Johl was requested to accept the patronship of the PAU Pensioners’ Welfare Association, which he accepted.

Later, Johl gave tips to senior citizens on physical fitness and mental peace.



Special Industrial Package
Manish Tewari seeks concessions for Punjab
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 6
Seeking a regional rather than state-specific approach for development, Manish Tewari today urged the Prime Minister and the Union Finance Minister to extend a special industrial package granted to three hill states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, to Punjab as well.

In letters addressed to both of them, Tewari stated that he had learnt that the Union Commerce Ministry had recommended the extension of concessions for Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand for three more years. He added that while he had nothing against concession to any state, but at the same time he suggested that these should be extended to Punjab, and if Haryana wants, to that state, as well.

He said, “While I have nothing against extending any concessions or exemptions to any particular state. However, time has come to look at developmental paradigms from a regional rather than a mere state perspective. It would also initiate the process of resolving a large number of contentious intra-state issues if we start taking a macro regional view of the economic and social issues”.

Tewari argued that Punjab had suffered severe losses in terms of investments due to the concessions to these three states. He pointed out, “Punjab, especially Ludhiana, has seen a flight of Capital over the past seven years ever since the scheme was announced. No new industry worth the name has come up in the state as it is far more attractive to go to the neighbouring states which enjoy all these benefits.”

The Congress MP disclosed that all major industrial houses in Punjab had chosen to expand and diversify outside Punjab, especially in Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, as with the concessions in place in these states, it makes profound economic sense to do so.

“However you would appreciate that Punjab has also gone through a very turbulent phase from 1980 to 1995 which set the state back on various accounts. If Punjab has survived it is because of the resilience of the Punjabi spirit”, he added.

Making a strong case for concessions to Punjab, he pointed out, “The concessions which have been extended to these states should also be extended to Punjab and if Haryana desires to that state also, so that the entire northern region can develop in a holistic manner.” He said this would ensure that the development in one state is not at the cost of the other because of a skewed concessions regime. “Industry should have the option of shopping for the best investment destination on a level playing field at least available in terms of the Union government policy,” he observed.

Tewari, who is also the national spokesperson of the AICC, reminded the Prime Minister that the issue had been a sore point with the Punjab industry for a long time and was flagged for your kind attention both in 2004 and 2009 when you had come to Ludhiana for the Lok Sabha election campaign.



Judges, SDM upset over Bakshi Khana’s upkeep
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 6
Judges along with the SDM today inspected the functioning of the local court complex to verify the complaints lodged by litigants and those visiting the complex. Judge Mandeep Kaur was upset over the number of complaints submitted to her by various persons. She got miffed after receiving complaints from an accused in the HDFC Bank fraud case.

She was told that there wasn’t any sitting arrangement in Bakshi Khana and on numerous occasions more than 80 convicts were lodged in a room meant for 30 people only.

The convicts were treated in an inhuman manner. There wasn’t any toilet to answer the call of the nature. To make things worse, the convicts were made to have edibles in the room itself.

She had directed the SSP to look into the matter. When she didn’t receive any reply she met District and Session Judge SP Banger yesterday who in turn asked her to take immediate action. She inspected Bakshi Khana and was moved by the pathetic condition of its inmates. Today, she took along with her judges Ranjeev Kumar, Ravi Inder Singh as well as SDM Mukand Singh for inspection in official capacity.

She found all allegations to be correct and found 66 inmates in Bakshi Khana. There wasn’t any separate cell for men and women inmates. Even the facility of drinking water was not provided to them. A bottle of country made liquor was also recovered from the place. The cops who were posted at Bakshi Khana, however, tried to shrug off its responsibility.

Four guards posted in Bakshi Khana were immediately removed. A separate cell was provided for women and women posted there. Facilities like potable drinking water and toilet were provided in both cells. The PWD department was also directed to get the cells whitewashed.



PAU Notes
Seminar on drug addiction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
The NSS Cell of Punjab Agricultural University today organised a seminar on thought provoking subjects of road safety and drug abuse with an aim to spread awareness among students on these issues. Preeti Kansal, founder and general secretary of the Aagaz Charitable Foundation delivered a speech on 'Awareness on Road Safety as well as Drug Abuse'.

On this occasion, College of Home Science, dean Dr Neelam Grewal, and NSS Cell co-ordinator Dr Dhawan were also present. Around 300 NSS students of PAU attended the seminar.

Addressing the audience, Kansal said, "We need to make our upcoming generations healthy, aware and responsible citizens but they are not getting proper guidance and there are no ideal role models for students."

She spoke on facts about drug abuse as she said drugs were easily available in Punjab villages.

A recent study on drug abuse revealed that the percentage of households affected by the menace was 61 in Majha, 64 in Malwa and 68 in Doaba. Every third male student in Punjab was a drug addict, she said.

Further, she highlighted the increasing number of road accidents, which was jeopardising the lives of youngsters, who are not very keen to follow traffic rules. She revealed an eye-opening data regarding the number of deaths in road accidents. She also advised students and audience to follow traffic rules and to stay away from drugs.



SC Kids
Education dept told to check drop-out rate
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 6
Despite tall claims being made by the state government on facilities being provided to kids belonging to lower strata families, the literacy rate of Scheduled Caste is still lower than that of overall population. Specific corrective measures being conspicuous by absence, the district education officers of the state have been directed to undertake further action to improve the ratio.

Heads and teachers of the government schools of the area are in a fix about corrective measures to improve the literacy ratio among children coming from Scheduled Caste families as the education department has shown inclination to take punitive and reward methods for the purpose.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that teachers and heads of government schools falling in the area had become extra cautious about students coming from Scheduled Caste families.

“We have been asked to ensure that there should be no drop out among Scheduled Caste students. Instead more children from this class should be encouraged to join the school,” said headmaster of a school located at a village in Sangrur district.

Teachers at another school said they had to bear certain expenses to keep these students coming to the school. Perusal of records revealed that the education department had taken a serious view of the development that a wide gap existed between literacy rates of Scheduled Caste and General categories. A meeting of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, headed by Buta Singh had also showed concern over the fact that literacy ratio for the Scheduled Caste for Punjab was only 56.2 per cent that was much lower than that for overall ratio of 69.6 per cent. More alarming issue was that the ratio was further discouraging in case of Scheduled Caste girls.

The office of Director-General (School Education) and the Sarav Sikhya Abhyiana Authority had also directed the DEOs of the state to initiate action to improve the ration at their end. “The commission (National Commission for Scheduled Castes) has said all efforts should made to bridge the gap between literacy ratio by taking punitive and encouraging methods,” reads a letter written by the DG (SE) to all DEOs of the state. 



Cardiologists awarded
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
The Rotary Health Care Foundation organised a vocational award ceremony to honour Dr Anil Mehra, USC division of cardiology, Los Angels, USA, Dr GS Wander, chief cardiologist and Dr Bishav Mohan, associate professor of Hero DMC Heart Institute, Ludhiana. The ceremony was organised under the chairmanship of Jagdish Lal Behal.

A subsidised treatment for the poor and needy patients for implanting stents under Wander and Mohan will be provided at the Hero DMC Heart Centre.

This is being done in collaboration with Rotary Club, Ludhiana. Kanti K Behal, president, Rotary Club, Ludhiana, said it would be an ongoing project and would be carried out in the coming years also at the Hero DMC Heart Centre.

The heart centre is a world-class organisation and has a complete infrastructure and super specialist doctors for all heart-related ailments.



Pay Scales
Non-teaching staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Non-teaching employees of Arya College today staged a dharna on the college campus against the non-implementation of the revised pay scales. Resentment prevailed among members of the Non-Teaching Employees' Union with regard to their long-pending demands.

The members said the committee had turned a blind eye to their problems.

Geetanjali, Nandan Singh, Jay Gopal Sharma, Ram Avtar, Darshan Singh, Ram Charitra Amarpal, Praveen Mayar, Ashwani Thakur, Kanwar Gurdit Singh, Sohan Lal Sharma, Rama Sobti, Inderjeet Singh Rana, Amrik Singh, Ramdas, Tilak Raj, Bimal Kumar, Shyam Surat, Tejinder Kaur and Santo Kumari were present.



NCC cadet to take part in R-Day parade
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 6
Nayeea Vinayak, NCC cadet from Anand Isher Senior Secondary School will make the school proud when he along with cadets from other states take part in the Republic Day parade (January 26) in New Delhi. She along with other cadets from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh have already left for New Delhi after completing their three weeks training at Air Force Station at Zirakhpur.

According to Kartar Singh, director of the school, Nayeea was among three junior wing cadets who had been selected for the parade from Punjab. In all seven boys and girls each have been selected from four northern states. 



Bank opens branch
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
ICICI Bank Ltd, India’s largest private sector bank, today inaugurated their new branch at Dugri, Ludhiana. SK Aggarwal, senior divisional manager, Life Insurance Corporation of India, inaugurated the branch. According to a press note issued, the branch has good parking facilities that will provide greater convenience to its customers.

It will remain open for customer transactions from 9am to 6pm, from Monday to Friday and 9am to 2pm on Saturday.

The branch will offer entire range of bank’s products, including comprehensive range of savings accounts, current accounts, fixed deposits, mutual fund, life insurance, general insurance etc to cater to different customer profiles and needs.



Foundation stone laid
Our Correspondent

Raikot, January 6
Gulzar Singh Ranike, Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fish Farming and Dairy Development, today laid the foundation stone of a water works at Nathowal village. It would be constructed at the cost of Rs 56 lakh and be sufficient for the village for at least two decades. Gurmeet Singh, Gurdeep Singh and Charanjit Singh had donated the margin money worth Rs 4.84 lakh in the memory of their father Bhag Singh Buttar.



Women cell reunites couple
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 6
The women cell today reunited a couple, who had parted ways a year back. Paramjit Kaur of Raikot and Gurmail Singh of Pakki Kenchian, Barnala, got married seven years ago and have three children out of the wedlock. Due to some dispute, the couple started living separately. Paramjit filed an application at the women cell, Jagraon, against her husband and mother-in-law following which a case was registered against them at the Raikot police station under Sections 498A, 323, 354, 506 IPC.

The couple was given a counselling at the women cell and they decided to reunite keeping in view the future of their children.



Dept of Posts accused of negligence
Our Correspondent

Raikot, January 6
A resident of the town has accused the local post office authorities of losing the passport of his daughter that was dispatched by the Regional Passport officer, Chandigarh. Satpal Sharma of Raikot has accused that the passport office in Chandigarh posted the passport of his daughter Ranjit Kaur to his residential address vide speed post receipt No. EP 784269915 on August 12 2009.

He said even though his address was complete and correct as all other posts come on the same address, the post-office officials instead of delivering the passport at the stated address passed it on to the post office of Sehbajpura village, nearby, on August 17, which returned the speed post package back to Raikot post office on August 19.

After waiting for the passport for some time, he went to the passport office at Chandigarh, where the authorities handed him the copy of the dispatch receipt. When he reached the Sehbajpura post office, the authority there gave him in writing on December 14 that the speed post package was returned to Raikot post office on August 19 itself.

The passport packet went missing since then. Postmaster Satwant Kaur, however, when contacted admitted that speed post packet could have been lost but said any thing could be said only after verification.

Sharma in the complaints shot to senior officials of the department has sought appropriate action against the erring local post office employees and said the career of his daughter had been ruined due to the negligence of the post-office officials as she was to go abroad for studies, which she could not do as her passport was lost. 



Home guards to protest on Jan 11
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Struggling to keep their kitchen fires burning despite raging inflation, the part time appointed home guards have now decided to take up the path of conflict to get themselves heard and remunerated fairly. The guards, who claim they are paid only Rs 150 every day in spite of their tough duties, asserted they were not able to run their households with this meager amount especially as prices of essential commodities had risen manifold.

‘‘Despite putting in so much work stepmotherly treatment is meted out to us. We’re unable to live a decent life’’, said Salaam Deen, president of the Home Guards Welfare Association of Punjab. The association threatened to stage a dharna on January 11.



‘Allow small flour mill owners to purchase wheat’
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, January 6
The state as well Central governments should take initiatives to provide foodgrains at cheaper prices to the general public, Chanderbhan Jain, vice president of the Punjab Vyopar Mandal (PVM), told The Tribune yesterday. He lashed out at the government’s decision to supply wheat only to roller flour mills at a rate of Rs 1,240 per quintal along with taxes, at which the price worked out to Rs 1,290 a quintal.

According to the new guidelines only roller flour mills can buy wheat from government agencies up to 10,000 quintals per month.

“By selling wheat only to big players, the latter will take undue advantage of their monopoly. After procuring huge quantities they will sell the wheat or its byproducts in the open market at much higher prices, not only exploiting the public but also undermining the viability of small traders and flour mill owners”, said Jain.

The Punjab Vyopar Mandal has asserted smaller traders and flour mills should also be allowed to purchase wheat from the government according to their demand. 



Post-promotions, DGP Gill favourite among cops
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 6
Finalisation of the seniority list and commencement of process for promoting the cops who had been running from pillar to post for many years, has projected the Punjab police chief as one of the most favorite DGPs. With at least 140 cops being promoted in the first phase and members of their families, expressing gratitude to the state police chief, even those who had once started applying for long leave after feeling humiliated on being made to salute their juniors are once again in high spirits.

At least 50 promoted sub-inspectors and inspectors, who are nearing retirement, are especially happy that they would be leaving the department with higher number of stars on their shoulders.

Majority of NGOs have reckoned Punjab DGP PS Singh Gill as one of the most favourite police chiefs of the state.

“It’s not that we don’t recognise role of our earlier chiefs in making our carreer. But it is for the first time that somebody has tried to resist political pressure while preparing the seniority list and expediting its implementation. Not only we, even our friends and relatives have expressed gratitude to him,” responded a cop whose name is in present list and is waiting to be decorated again.

Successive lists of promotions released by the state police department had disappointed those who were appointed as ASI in 1990 and were yet to be promoted as inspectors while a large number of PAP officials, much junior to them, had been posted at higher ranks to them.

Humiliated on being made to salute their juniors, these officers had started applying for long leave to pursue their cases in various courts.

“We are agonised mentally and socially as we have to explain to our family that our stagnation in the department is due to the violation of rules and not due to our default,” read one of the applications forwarded by an SHO to his SSP about two years ago. He, like many others had asked for leave for six months to pursue a case that he along with his associates has filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

These cops were among those recruited as ASIs in 1990, confirmed in 1992 and promoted to sub-inspectors following the upper school course clearance.

They had joined the force when terrorism was at its peak 20 years ago and had to virtually beg for promotions, while officers much junior to them had since attained higher posts.

The Tribune had carried a series of stories highlighting agony of these cops a few of whom have now been promoted. 



DBA Elections
Eight file nomination papers
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, January 6
The process of filing nomination papers for the annual elections of the District Bar Association (DBA) took place today with eight lawyers filing papers for different posts. The elections are to be held on January 15. Ashok Mittal was the first to file his nomination papers with the Returning Officer (RO) for the post of the presidentship of the DBA. Senior lawyers, including Avinash Chander Gupta, Darshan Singh Gill, Harinderjit Singh Gill, Vikas Gupta, Vishal Gupta, and JS Miglani, accompanied him.

SK Pathak is also staking claim for the post of president. He submitted his nomination papers to the RO along with his supporters, including former Bar Council chairman Balwinder Goel, Dharmjit Singh Khera and Gurdish Singh Grewal.

The sitting vice-president of DBA Anil Kaushal also filed nomination papers for the presidentship. He presented the papers along with his supporters Milan Singla, Ajit Singh Walia and NK Singla.

For the post of vice-president, only one contender ND Chopra turned up, whereas, Vishal Tiwari filed the nomination papers for the post of joint secretary. He too came along with his supporters.

Sandeep Arora and Sandeep Gulati have filed nominations for the post of finance secretary, whereas, Amandeep Arora has filed his papers for the post of executive members.

Returning Officer Harpreet Singh Makkar, Assistant Returning officers Darshan Sandhu, NPS Gahir apprised that the last day of filing nomination papers was January 7. The scrutiny of papers would be done on January 8. Those who wanted to withdraw their nomination papers could do so till January 9, the RO said. 



MC shows unseemly haste in severing sewer connections
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 6
If the outcry over mass disconnections of water supply and sewerage services for nonpayment of user charges is any indication, the ongoing drive launched by the municipal corporation in the city to recover huge arrears appears to have become a tool in the hands of its staff to harass residents and even settle personal scores in certain cases.

The sewerage connection of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT), along with those of some other government departments, was snapped by the civic body’s operation & maintenance (O&M) wing on Friday due to nonpayment of arrears amounting to over Rs 80,000. However, LIT officials asserted there were no outstanding user charges against the trust.

To substantiate their claim, the officials of LIT’s accounts department have made available a copy of the bill for Rs 12,150 on account of disposal charges for the period from October 2008 to March 2009. The bill was paid through cheque number 391231 dated March 26, 2009. Interestingly, the computer generated bill does not show any arrears (old unpaid bills).

The LIT officials also said half-yearly bills for sewerage services were being regularly paid for the past several years, that too well in time, so as to avail of the 10 percent rebate offered by the MC for payment within 15 days of receipt of the bill.

"There seems to be something grossly wrong with the accounts of the civic body. From where the arrears are being generated is beyond comprehension," the officials maintained.

It is not only trust officials who have had to face unwarranted water and sewerage disconnection and even suffer humiliation at the hands of MC staff. There are scores of such cases where even paid bills, wrong bills or unrelated bills have been shown as arrears and city residents have either been slapped with notices of attachment of property, or else their water and sewerage lines have been disconnected.

Sat Parkash, a PCO owner in Bharat Nagar Chowk, is another victim of the highhandedness of the MC staff. Providing documentary evidence, he claimed that he had been paying user charges regularly, and had all bills and receipts in his possession. At the time of obtaining water and sewerage connections nearly 15 years ago, he had made a written submission to the MC for disconnection of the water supply and sewerage services in the name of Jagan Nath, a previous occupant of the same property.

"The MC did not correct its records and arrears of unpaid bills of Jagan Nath, who had died in 1980, kept mounting. Now the MC has slapped a notice of attachment of my property against arrears of more than Rs 80,000 which pertain to user charges and interest on arrears of connection in the name of Jagan Nath," an agitated Sat Parkash, who is now thinking in terms of seeking judicial relief, told The Tribune.

When asked to comment, Manjit Singh, an executive engineer in the civic body’s O&M wing, was noncommittal. He said as far as the disconnection of sewerage services to LIT was concerned, the MC accounts showed arrears of over Rs 80,000. On the trust’s claim of having paid all the bills received by it till date, he said some error in manual posting of entries could not be completely ruled out and the accounts will have to be reconciled to ascertain the actual position.



MC foils plan of land grabbers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
The Municipal Corporation (MC) foiled the plans of land grabbers, who were allegedly trying to take possession of the 1,000-yd long MC public park by carrying out illegal construction here today. The park is situated in Chet Singh Nagar near the Gill road. According to MC sources, a team headed by (Zone- C) official Nirmalpreet Singh reached the spot and stopped the construction on the park.

It was learnt that residents had complained to the MC regarding the illegal construction work on the public park.

The illegal construction was in progress on the behest of a close aide of a politician, who had been eying the property, which is worth crore of rupees.



Film explores farmers’ sufferings
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
The forthcoming Punjabi film “Mitti” explores the sufferings of poor farmers in Punjab, who have been bearing the brunt since the arrival of multinational companies in the country. The star cast of the film was in the city today. Lakhwinder, who is playing a lead role in the film, said, “The film is about four guys, who decide to raise their voice against the injustice. Singer Mika has acted in the film.”

“Like the East India Company, many international multinational companies are trying to grab land of farmers for their own vested interests. Their main aim is to make farmers their slaves. They know that the price of land is going to rise in future, therefore, they grab land in the state at a lower price and force farmers to become labourers in their own land,” he added.

Waqir Sheikh, who has done a couple of films down South and several serials like Chandarkanta, Heena, Parchayian and Umeed, will be making an entry into the Punjabi film industry. “Subject of the film is very sensitive and explains the condition of farmers in the state. The film will definitely show the true picture of what the farming community is going through,” he said.

The story mainly revolves around four guys with a little romance added to it. “My journey into films has been satisfying so far and very soon I will be seen in a Hindi film titled “Jhansi ki Rani”, said Kashish, heroine of the film.

Producers of the film Rubina Beig and Kamalpreet Singh said the film would definitely pull a huge crowd.

The film has been shot in Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Phagwara and Mumbai.

"We are sure that audience will appreciate our efforts,” said the duo.



Fraudulent calls worry subscribers
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
Do not get excited if you receive a call informing that you have won a lottery or an award. Such calls are fraudulent and subscribers of various telecom companies are being targeted these days. Subscribers are arbitrarily being targeted by callers who pretend to be calling on behalf of the customers’ telecom operator and inform the recipient that they have won a prize or a lottery.

Bharti Airtel has even cautioned their subscribers not to fall in the trap.

Generally, a customer receives a missed call from a number starting with +92. If the customer returns the call to that particular number, at the other end, a person pretending to be a representative of the telecom company informs that the subscriber has won an operator-sponsored lottery. Then attempts to con the customer into divulging sensitive personal information and asks to pay a commission to receive the winning amount.

Tirath Singh, a subscriber, said he had been receiving several missed calls from a particular number for the past one month. "When one day I called back at that number, the person at the other end told me that I had received a prize from the company and all I needed was to receive the prize and pay a commission via DTH recharge vouchers," he said.

Another subscriber Ranjana said she was also lured by the phone call telling her that she had won an award from the company’s side. "I was ready even to pay a commission. It was my husband who refrained me from doing so," she said.

Airtel has issued a general advisory to all mobile and landline users stating that the subscribers should avoid responding to suspicious missed calls from unknown numbers especially those beginning with +92 and not to respond to any SMS from unknown sources promoting to call on a number. They have directed the subscribers to refrain from sharing any personal information and identity proofs like Voter ID number, PAN number, Bank account number, credit card information or make any payment to those promising lottery or unexpected awards.

In addition to this they have asked not to disclose one’s handset IMEI or SIM card number to unknown callers and in case of suspicious calls, report the same to the security authorities concerned or service providers.



Bata’s ex-manager booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
A former manager of a Bata showroom located near the Girja Ghar Chowk in Chaura Bazaar has been booked for committing a fraud worth Rs 11 lakh. Naresh Tangara, the accused, who resides in Gandhi Colony, Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, has been booked following a complaint lodged by Satish Sharma, district manager of Bata Shoe Company.

According to the police, audit branch of the company found embezzlement of funds worth Rs 11,37213 lakh, following which the company conducted an independent probe.

Sharma alleged that Tangara allegedly embezzled funds worth Rs 11 lakh by showing decline in the sale of shoes from May 2008 to November 2008. But when the company’s audit branch checked the stock they found goods worth Rs 11 lakh missing.

After conducting a thorough probe into the matter the police has booked the accused under Sections 420 and 408 of the IPC.

According to the Kotwali police, the accused gave the police a slip and might have managed to flee from the city.

Meanwhile, the city police has constituted a team to nab the accused who might be hiding at his native town in Uttar Pradesh.



Mutilated body found from fields
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 6
The body of an unidentified middle-aged man bearing marks of electrocution and mutilations due to stray canines was found in a field on the outskirts of Khera village in Ludhiana district, near here, on Tuesday. The Dehlon police has initiated process to identify the victim and his killers if any.

The body of the unidentified man, aged between 40 and 45 years, bearing multiple marks of electrocution, was found near a tube well room situated in fields owned by Sukhdev Singh of Khera village yesterday afternoon.

It is suspected that stray canines might have eaten his body. Besides devouring one of his hands, the canines had eaten parts of his face. As a result his face was beyond recognition. Teeth were the only part of his face that canines could not eat.

The man, who is 5 foot 9 inches tall and stoutly built, seemed to have halted near the tube well room for relaxing in the evening on Sunday.

Multiple marks of electrocution on a few parts of his body suggested that he had come in contact with a high-tension 11 KV wires passing over the room’s roof.

The deceased was wearing a brown trouser and a shirt and a navy blue pullover at the time of death. A few food items like chapattis; vegetable and ladoos were lying in polythene bags near the body.

According to Rachhpal Singh Dhindsa, SHO, Dehlon, passers by spotted the body in the afternoon yesterday. Sukhdev Singh, owner of the fields, was informed about it, he on his behalf informed the police.

Preliminary investigations revealed that nothing unusual had taken place on Sunday afternoon when the owners visited their fields.

A special investigation team led by Sukhbir Singh tried to get the body identified by those residing in 20 villages but to no avail.

”We had requested sarpanches of these villages to announce about the recovery of the body through a public address system installed at religious places. At least 300 people came to see the body but nobody could identify it,” said the SHO adding that particulars of the body were telecast on local channels as well. 



Man tries to implicate rival, lands in jail
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
A business rivalry turned ugly after a scrap dealer so as to settle scores put a country- made weapon in his rival’s car. Munish Kumar Mani (27), a resident of Tibba road, who was nabbed by the city police for possessing the weapon, was let off and his business rival who allegedly informed the police about it arrested.

Focal Point SHO said the informer eventually turned out to be criminal. He said it was Harpeet Singh, who actually put the country-made weapon in Mani’s car and informed the police about it.

SHO said both Mani and Harpreet deal in sale and purchase of the scrap.

Harpreet was jealous of that Mani was doing well in the business. He along with a Delhi- based resident planted the pistol in Mani’s car so as to implicate him in a false case. After a thorough probe the police came to know about the fact. 



Bittu, Bhootna chargsheeted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 6
The Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Jatinder Kaur today handed over the copies of chargsheet to Shiromani Akali Dal Panch Pardhani head Daljit Singh Bittu and an alleged Babbar Khalsa terrorist Balbir Singh Bhootna. They were facing allegation of indulging in unlawful activities.

However, the other accused arrested in this case are Jaspal Singh Manjpur, spokesman of Shiromani Akali Dal Panch Pardhani Party, Palwinder Singh Shatrana and Gurdeep Singh Raju. They were not produced in the court.

After handing over the copies of chargsheet, the case was adjourned to January 18. The court ordered for issued production warrants of the accused, who, were not produced today.

Bittu and his aides were arrested by the local police on August 26 after some revelations made by Bhootna in police custody. 



Man booked for raping minor
Tribune News Service

Machhiwara, January 6
The police today booked a person for allegedly raping his minor niece. The accused has been identified as Jarnail Singh, who works at a liquor vend. The victim alleged that the accused took her to a liquor vend on the pretext of providing her a job and allegedly raped her.

When she raised an alarm, some passersby reached the vend and informed the police about the incident. The accused fled from the spot. The police said efforts were on to nab the accused.



Electrician steals temple money
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 6
An electrician who was hired to install close circuit TV cameras at Govind Gau Dham temple near Partap Singhwala in Haibowal turned out be a thief. According to the Haibowal police, he broke the locks of the two cash boxes lying in the temple library and fled away with money that had been deposited in them as offerings amounting to about Rs 5,000.

The incident took place last night after the man was brought in to install the CCTV cameras in the temple premises for keeping a watch on pickpockets and other antisocial elements.

The cops have kept the identity of the suspect under wraps, refusing to disclose his name.



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |