L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Anti-Oz sentiment at Jagraon
Tribune News Service

Grieving relatives at Jagraon on Sunday.
Grieving relatives at Jagraon on Sunday. Photos: Inderjeet Verma

Jagraon, January 10
Anti-Australia sentiment prevailed at Jagraon today as the body of Nitin Garg, the first hate crime victim, was brought home.As his body was being consigned to the flames, residents blamed the Australian government for the death of 23-year-old Nitin who hoped to return with a better education.

All eyes were moist and people expressed their disgust for Australia.

“We had stopped him a number of times during his two-month visit in November. He came back to get his house renovated before finalising the marriage of his elder brother, Hanish,” Mohinder Kaur, a neighbour, stated. “When he was leaving, I offered him curd for good luck and safe journey,” she added crying.

Those present at the cremation ground were murmuring that they would never send their children to Australia. “Punjabis go to other countries also, but they are never subjected to this kind of treatment. We don’t know what is wrong with Australia,” Suman Rani, a resident, said.

People whose children were settled in Australia were also scared now and were having sleepless nights. Some of them had even asked their children to return.

“This tragedy has left us shattered. A young death is always tragic and leaves a scar. But if somebody’s son dies overseas and the body is brought home, it leaves the family half dead,” Mohinder Kaur said.



Friend who saw Nitin off, brought his coffin
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, January 10
It was a feeling that could not be expressed in words for Avtar Singh, a neighbour of Nitin Garg, who saw him off on December 17 in New Delhi and brought him back in a coffin. Avtar, who Nitin treated as an elder brother, broke down at the airport last evening when he was handed over the coffin and belongings of Nitin from Australia.

“When he came last time, he brought a bag of gifts. This time, the bag was there, but was full of sorrow. I wish I could do something to instill life in his body,” he said, mourning his death.

“His voice reverberates in my ears. He had spoken to me four hours before his death. His phone call used to fill me with energy. He has left us forever,” he said as he recalled the day when he left Nitin at the airport.Nitin was very happy that day. “He told me that he would be back within six months and I would have to go and pick him up. Look at destiny, I had to get his body after less than a month. I wish I did not have to do it,” he rued. Nitin did not give in to the pressure by his family and friends to stay back after his father’s death over a year ago. “I had picked him up from the airport off and on and I was destined to bring him back lifeless,” Avtar added with sorrow.


Mere assurances, nothing else
Rakesh Gupta

Grandfather with Nitin’s picture.
Grandfather with Nitin’s picture.Photos: Inderjeet Verma

Jagraon, January 10
Nitin’s family was well-off and arranged the transportation of his body to India on its own.It is not just the attacks on Indians which has disturbed people, but also the attitude of the police and the government of Australia.

Ten days have elapsed and the police is still groping in the dark over the identity of the assailants. Tim Huggins, the first secretary of Australian High Commissioner, Peter Varghese, who had visited Jagraon with his aides P Pardhan and Baljit Grewal read out a condolence message

at the cremation ground, but refused to talk about the investigation in the case. Talking to The Tribune, he just said they were looking for the accused and upon identification, they would be sentenced to “severe punishment”.

“The Australian government is talking of punishment when it has failed to trace even a witness even though the attack took place near a public park in broad daylight,” a relative of Nitin stated. In the past couple of years, several Indians have been attacked, but to date, no native has been implicated.

Despite working at lower wages, Indians progress well, leaving behind the natives, which irks them. “His mother will never get him back, but the only thing the Australian government could do is bring the culprits to book. Hollow assurances mean nothing,” Ashok Kumar, uncle of Nitin, said.



Blood-smeared car baffles cops 
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
A blood-stained car, found abandoned at Nehru Sidhant Kendra near Feroze Gandhi market, which sent the police in a tizzy here this morning turned out to be the handiwork of a man suffering from depression.

The white Maruti car (PB-08-5900), which was smeared with blood, was spotted by commuters this morning and they informed the police about it.

The SHO Division No. 2, Harwinder Singh, rushed to the spot to investigate, suspecting it to have something to do with the brawl that took place last night near the Civil Hospital.

The police thought that fearing arrest, the accused might have abandoned the car near, but nothing was found in the car that could point towards the brawl.

The SSP was informed about the matter and he ordered a detailed investigation into the case till afternoon. The DSP, Sarabha Nagar, Raj Kumar, and SHO Division No. 5 Jaswinder Singh Mangat went to the spot to probe the matter.

The DSP said they took it to be an assault case as the blood on the car indicated that some assailants might have abandoned it after committing crime.

The police also took the help of the Jalandhar police as the PB-08 series belonged to Jalandhar. While searching for documents, the police found a mobile number and it was revealed that the car belonged to Sandeep Puri (35) who was suffering from depression for the past three years and was on medication. His brother-in-law had died recently, aggravating his condition.

Last night, Sandeep was returning home after visiting his sister’s house when he suddenly alighted from the car and smashed his head on the windshield. He started bleeding profusely, following which he smeared the car with blood.

He then took an autorickshaw home. His family came to know about the incident when the police reached their house near Dhollewal to investigate the matter.

Sandeep had told his family that there was a problem with the car and he left it at his sister’s house.

The police did not initiate action against Sandeep and warned his family not to give him a vehicle in future.



Luxury AC buses for Katra
The fare from Delhi to Ludhiana will be Rs 435, Ludhiana to Katra Rs 375 and Delhi to Katra Rs 810 per person
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Facilitating the journey of pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine, the Punjab Roadways has commenced a super luxury AC bus service from Delhi to Katra with Ludhiana as the main stopover.

Two buses with 45 seats each were flagged off today from Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Inter State Bus Terminal here for Delhi. The buses would leave for Katra tomorrow morning from Delhi at 6.20 am and would reach Ludhiana at 1 pm. Thereafter, the coaches would depart for Katra at 1.30 pm and reach there at 9.30 pm.

On its return journey, the coaches would start from Katra at 7.30 am and reach Ludhiana at 3 pm. These would leave for Delhi at 3.30 pm and reach there at 10 pm.

The fare from Delhi to Ludhiana would be Rs 435, Ludhiana to Katra Rs 375 and Delhi to Katra Rs 810 per person.

SP Aggarwal, a passenger travelling to Delhi, termed the luxury coach service as a boon for pilgrims from Delhi to Katra. “From Delhi it takes 14 hours to reach Katra, from where the pilgrims start their journey to the shrine, but there was no direct AC bus from Delhi.

This initiative of the Punjab Roadways has facilitated the journey,” he said.

Harpal Singh, a devotee who visited the shrine during Navratras, said it would not only save time, but also help passengers travel in comfort.

The Punjab Roadways GM, Ludhiana, RS Grewal, said keeping in mind the comfort and safety of the passengers, the buses had been equipped with special speed sensors which would not allow the drivers to exceed the speed limit over 60 km/hour in Punjab, 95 km/hr on highways and over 40 km/hr in Delhi.

“The approximate cost of each luxury coach is Rs 50 lakh and there is integrated cooling/heating system in addition to a sound-proof system that would ensure complete comfort of the passengers,” the GM went on to add. 



Going uphill for sun!
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
With the temperature dipping in the city, people are flocking to the hills to bask in the sun.Earlier, snow at hill stations would beckon residents, but now it is the sun. “The temperature in the city has been dipping and the chill is getting harder to bear as we are not use to it. Weather reports are talking of sunny days in the hills. Rather than going to the hills in summer, I think going there during winter is a good idea now. Our family is planning a short holiday at Dharamshala,” Pramveer Singh, a businessman, said.

Simran, studying at St Bede’s College, Shimla, had come to the city for a few days to attend the wedding of her cousin and is having a tough time. “Though the weather is cold in Shimla, but the sun makes it comfortable. I am missing the sun. The bone-chilling weather here is impossible to bear,” she said.

Simmi Mathur, another resident, said people in the plains were not used to such harsh weather. “I generally do not prefer travelling during winter, but if I get some sunshine for a few days, I won’t mind going uphill,” she remarked.



Ad hoc lecturer's appointment cancelled
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
In a major development in the case of the appointment of an ad hoc lecturer through alleged manipulation, Panjab University, Chandigarh, has passed an order cancelling the selection.

The Vice-Chancellor of PU has cancelled the appointment of Pooja Chatley as lecturer in business management at Khalsa College for Women. According to the order: "Her selection had been made on the basis of MPhil in commerce, through distance education after the UGC gazette notification on July 11."

The order further says: "Immediate steps may be taken to replace her by a qualified and regular lecturer in business management. "The appointment has been cancelled from August 8.

The BJP state investor cell chief Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, in a statement to the Ludhiana Tribune, had alleged that Pooja, who was working as ad hoc lecturer at the college was given preference over more qualified candidates who appeared for the interview.

Besides, he had submitted an application under the RTI Act, requesting the college authorities to provide the list of candidates called for the interview, remarks of the panelists and the selection criteria. The request was forwarded to the college by the dean, College Development Council, Panjab University, but the college did not do anything.

However, college principal Dr Varinder Kaur Thind had denied the charges, stating that the college had nothing to do with the selection. "The selection was made by the selection committee of the university, with the Vice-Chancellor's nominee and two subject experts on the panel," she had said.

Following this, Grewal had served legal notices on the principal of Khalsa College for Women, management members and the Panjab University selection committee for violating UGC and Panjab University norms in the selection of Pooja.

The notices were served under Sections 465, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, 166 and 167 of the IPC.



Pay Scale
PAU pensioners threaten to move HC
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, January 10
The Damocles’ sword keeps hanging on the head of authorities in Punjab Agricultural University. While, non-teaching employees of the university have suspended their agitation last week to demand revised pay scales following assurances from the Punjab government that a partial demand for funds would be met, now the retirees of the university are threatening to move the High Court for contempt of proceedings against the university authorities for non-payment of their pension for the past three months.

The non-teaching employees are demanding higher pay scales as recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission. A delegation of the PAU authorities led by Harish Dhanda, chief parliamentary secretary, had met the principal secretary, finance, and the financial commissioner (development) and urged them to grant funds for the payment of salaries under the revised pay scales.

The university needs more than Rs 8 crore to pay the revised scales to the non-teaching employees. The state government officers promised to meet partial demand. The state government has also sanctioned a sum of Rs 4.23 crore for payment of salaries to the teaching staff under the revised grades. So far, the state government has not released any amount to the university.

Meanwhile, pensioners of the PAU are now pressing on the university authorities to pay them pension for November, December and January. The university does not have any amount to meet the demand and the authorities are depending on the grant from the state government.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Manjit Singh Kang, in a letter to the financial commissioner (development) N S Kang, stated that the pensioners of the PAU went to the High Court in 2008 and got a court order issued to pay them pension along with other arrears. With the help of the government, the university has been able to pay pension and other arrears, including dearness allowance/travel concession upto October 2009.

However, PAU has no funds to disburse pension from November 2009 onwards. Besides, Punjab government has revised pensionary benefits from January 2006, which are applicable to PAU pensioners.

The Vice-Chancellor has further written to the government that retirees of departments that are now part of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), but have retired from PAU, are also being paid annual pension of around Rs 2.50 crore on unrevised rates.

The pension contribution of PAU employees who have been transferred to GADVASU, which works out to be Rs 17 crore are also payable to GADVASU. The PAU cannot pay this amount, as funds under the pension scheme have exhausted.

He has also pointed out that since because pension and other dues were paid on the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2008, non payment of pension is likely to attract contempt of court citation against PAU, Punjab government and PAU Vice-Chancellor.

The PAU needs an immediate financial assistance to pay pension. Dr Kang has emphasised on the Punjab government to take immediate decision on levy of cess at the rate of .5 per cent as submitted to the government by the Johl Committee.



2 ETT candidates held for agitation
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 10
The police conducted raid on residence of ETT candidates here last night and arrested Lachhman Singh from his house at Ward No 11 and Ishwar Chander, resident of Ward No 7, in connection with the agitation by the Panjab Unemployed ETT Teachers Union. Karanveer Singh, chief, Panjab ETT teachers, Fatehgarh Sahib, general secretary Mohider Pal Singh, state committee member Barinder Singh, vice-president Shiv Preet Sharma and executive member Avtar Singh, Jagjot Singh, Vijay Kumar, Gurpreet Singh and Baljit Singh have criticised the harassment of unemployed teachers at the hands of the police.

Panjab Pardesh Congress secretary Pargat Singh Anian and Surjit Singh Baronga, in a press statement, have condemned the action of the Panjab government to provoke the teachers who were already suffering due to the wrong policies of the government.

Protest condemned
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Strongly criticising the attitude of ETT candidates for shifting their services from panchayati raj Institutions (PRIs) to the education department, Manpreet Singh Iyali, chairman, zila parishad, Ludhiana, and Dilraj Singh Bhundar, chairman, zila prishad, Mansa, along with other chairpersons of zila parishads and heads of PRIs, claimed that the existing system has been established under the 73rd Amendment of the Indian Constitution for strengthening accountability framework and effective control through the grass-roots-level bodies to meet the goal of universal elementary education.

The elected representatives observed that with the present arrangement, the village schools had effective community involvement and in an environment that facilitated the learning process of children and quality school facilities, the demand of ETT teachers was unjustified and their agitation was uncalled for, they added.

Iyali and Bhunder further said according to sources, 13,034 ETT teachers working in 5,752 schools, have already been granted all facilities on par with other government school teachers and they have been promised to clear all arrears, increments, clearance of probation periods and regular payment of salaries by January.

The chairpersons further asserted that the schools under the control of zila prishads were providing better quality education to the students on account of effective close liaison and coordination with the representatives of the PRIs who were the real elected representatives of the rural masses.

They said any attempt to disturb the existing arrangements would be against the democratic spirit.



Youth Cong activists celebrate Lohri
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 10
Activists of the District Youth Congress (DYC) today celebrated Lohri at a function organised by New Friends Club at New Azad Nagar here. Sweets and exercise books were distributed to more than 150 girls. The DYC president Dimple Rana was the chief guest. Rana said the party had taken up the task of motivating people against female foeticide.

Educational and motivational campaigns being carried out by NGOs as well as other social, religious and educational bodies had improved the skewed sex ratio, but still a lot more needed to be done, he added.



From Schools & Colleges
Interactive session at Sat Paul School
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Sat Paul Mittal School organised an interactive session with Dr Harish Dhillon, director-principal, YPS School, Mohali, here.

The session aimed at highlighting the characteristics of ICSE/ISC in the present milieu. Lt Col Dr DB Sharma, director, Sat Paul Mittal School, welcomed the guests and parents and informed them about the school's focus. Bhupinder Gogia, head, senior school, clarified doubts of parents through a presentation.

She also informed the parents that provisional admission to Class XI would begin in February.

Dr Dhillon explained the merit of ICSE and laid emphasis on curriculum it offers.


Desh Bhagat College of Education has been awarded Grade ‘B’ by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council of India (NAAC).

Dr Zora Singh, chairman, Tejinder Kaur, vice-chairperson, and Prof Shalini Gupta, director general, expressed satisfaction over the performance of the college.

Declamation contest

SDP College for Women organised an inter-college declamation contest to commemorate the memory of freedom fighter and philanthropist Ram Lal Bhasin.

The contest was sponsored and hosted by Bhasin family and Rajgadh Estate. As many as 16 teams participated in the event and discussed topics like "A sound mind lives in a healthy body," "Moral education - The only solution to increasing indiscipline among students", etc.

The participants expressed their views giving examples from various branches of knowledge and from everyday life. Dr Indu Malhotra, PCS, additional chief administrator, GLADA, presided over the function. The Ram Lal Bhasin Memorial running trophy was bagged by Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women.



Weather plays spoilsport
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 10
The overcast sky and chill in the air confined a large number of people indoors today, with the result that the pulse polio drive carried out in the city and elsewhere in the district evoked a lukewarm response.The health authorities claimed that between 45 per cent and 50 per cent of the 5.77 lakh eligible children under five years of age group were vaccinated.

Civil Surgeon Dr Maninderjit Singh said the final figures of the first day of the drive would be available only late in the evening.

Even if 50 per cent of the children were immunised at booths, it was a reasonably good job in the prevailing weather conditions, he asserted.

He added that the children who were not covered today would be given polio drops by teams of door-to-door volunteers on January 11 and 12.

In addition to the 2,166 polio booths set up in the district, 107 mobile teams and 98 transit teams of volunteers were deployed to cover children on bus stands, railway stations and state and national highways.



815 children get polio drops
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 10
In response to the puls-polio drive launched by the state government, as many as 815 children between the age group of 0 to 5 were given polio drops at nine booths today under the supervision of SMO Dr Jagdish Kaur. The chief guest Sadhu Singh Dharamsot MLA inaugurated the camp.

Dharamsot appreciated the efforts of the medical team and NGO Manav Bhalai Manch for their cooperation. Manch chief Som Nath Lutava, secretary Manohar Lal Verma, municipal council vice-president Jiwan Kumar Puri, Parveen Singh Mittal, Dr Gulzar Singh, Dr Sarabjit Kaur, Dr Babita Abrol and Surjan Singh Mehmi were also present. Dr Jagdish Kaur informed that the left out cases who fail to reach the booths would be covered by a special team at their door-step tomorrow.



Social bodies urged to help admn
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 10
Claiming that welfare schemes launched by the government would yield better results with active involvement of social organisations, health and family welfare department’s principal secretary Satish Chandra called upon office-bearers of social and philanthropist organisations to join hands with the administration in eradicating dreaded diseases, including polio.

Chandra was talking to The Tribune after inaugurating immunisation camps in slum areas falling under Sangrur district.

Acknowledging the contribution and commitment of constituents of the Rotary Clubs of the state in implementing various health schemes, including fighting the polio, Chandra asserted that a large number of club members had stood by the health officials at 16,000 booths established for administering vaccine to children under five years of age in the state today.

Showing satisfaction over the performance of staff deputed for the purpose, Chandra maintained that the target of eradicating the disease could be achieved only when reservoir of the virus in UP and Bihar were wiped out completely.

Member of Rotary International’s Indian National Polioplus Society Shubh Karan Gupta said office-bearers and members of Rotary clubs in the border state were once again enthusiastic about the mission given to them.

Meanwhile, the authorities in the health department claimed to have administered anti-polio vaccine to over 80 per cent of targeted children in the district.

The rest of the children will be provided vaccine during a door-to-door campaign.

According to civil surgeon Dr Chandan Jit Singh Kondal, the authorities had arranged over 800 booths to cover the town and its surrounding areas.

Vaccine was provided to newborns at their residence by volunteers of various social organisations.

Of the total population of 15.754 lakh, 1,94,111 children in target group, living in 2,75,442 houses were to be administered the vaccine today.

In addition to stationary booths, 30 transit and 26 mobile teams were also pressed into service.

District 3090 DGN Amzad Khan, state coordinator Dr VK Goel, president Dr Ravinder Sharma, former president Dr Bhupinder Singh Bedi and Pardeep Sharda accompanied the health authorities.



City’s glorious chapter
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
With the passing away of Dewan Jagdish Chandra, a freedom fighter during the Quit India Movement, another chapter of Ludhiana’s glorious connection with the freedom movement passed into history.

He had not been keeping well for the past many days. He breathed his last yesterday. He was 96. He is survived by four sons.

A great son of India, Dewan Jagdish Chandra had participated in the battle for freedom. Starting as young as 16, he had been imprisoned for the sake of the country at the tender age of 17.

He had completed his matriculation while languishing behind bars at the Central Jail, Multan, and was named an accused in a case of criminal conspiracy along with Sardar Kishan Singh, father of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Before his death, Dewan Jagdish Chandra, in an interview with The Tribune, had recalled how he had hoisted the Tricolour on the roof of the Central Jail when he was just a teenager.

The freedom fighter, who had turned frail in his later years, had narrated the incident with such excitement as if he was reliving it. He had also narrated how he was beaten up after hoisting the flag.

“I had fallen unconscious. When I regained consciousness, I saw bruises on my body. But all this had not deterred my determination to launch a rebellion against the British,” he had recalled.

Dewan Jagdish Chandra had a vision for the country. He had said despite all kinds of reports of corruption and poor administration, dark clouds still had a silver lining.

“The new generation sounds promising. They need a direction. The responsibility of providing this rests with school curricula, television, newspapers, mass media and parents. We have no dearth of capable people. They hold the key to the bright future if we are able to build their character,” he had said.

His hopes from the youth would continue to provide them direction though his death left a void that could never be filled.



Villagers seek scheme extension
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 10
Acknowledging the gesture of the subdivision (west) authorities in facilitating the issuance of domicile and special category certificates for wards of residents of the area at their respective schools, residents of villages falling under other subdivisions of the district have urged the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner to extend the scheme to them.

Deputy Commissioner Vikas Garg has said he has directed officers to explore possibility of issuing the documents through heads of schools falling under their jurisdiction.

Residents of Pohir, Jagera, Malaudh, Brahampur, Rachhin and Lohatbaddi villages have urged the authorities to extend the scheme to provide domicile and special category certificates to students of classes X and XII through heads of their schools.

Referring to the woes of parents who have to shuttle between offices to get the documents, the residents have argued that a little extra effort will relieve the parents, most of whom are labourers and peasants, of harassment and monetary trouble.



Trying to cash in on others’ tragedy
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 10
The desire for posting at a school situated near their residence is so strong among government school teachers that they do not hesitate in applying for adjustment on a post vacated due to the death of the incumbent at the posting of their choice.

The distance between their residence and various schools of the area, tentative dates of retirement of teachers posted at those schools and information about teachers suffering from diseases are on the tips of teachers desirous of getting transferred in proximity to their houses.

Though the state government has refrained heads of government schools from immediately recommending transfer applications for any post vacant due to death of a teacher, the race for posts continues unabated.

The craving for posting at a school situated near their residence was so strong among government school teachers that they, at times, do not hesitate to compromise with moral values and social ethics.

The tendency has resulted in a situation wherein social activists and political leaders, including ministers, have started distancing themselves from union leaders of the organisations of teachers.

Teachers seeking the favour of influential persons, including ministers and politicians, do not consider the suitability of the place and the occasion for requesting them to recommend their applications.

Whether it is a marriage party or a funeral procession, they always try to exploit the situation in their favour.

Terming the tendency as callous, former Education Minister and SAD leader Tota Singh has regretted that members of a class known as national builders give more importance to their own suitability than understanding the administrative problems and sentiments of their colleagues.

Referring to unsavoury occasions of social activists and political leaders coming to him for adjusting certain teachers on posts vacated due to the death of incumbents immediately thereafter, Tota Singh has disclosed that he had passed orders to restrict the submission of such applications till all ceremonies regarding death were over.

“In one case, when a Punjabi singer had brought the application of her sister’s transfer a day after the death of the incumbent, I had to suspend the teacher seeking transfer and the headmistress recommending the request,” said Tota Singh.

The headmistress had certified that students had been suffering a lot due to the post lying vacant for one day.

Former Chief Minister and former Education Minister Surjit Singh Barnala had been shocked when a teacher, along with his supporters, asked him to recommend his transfer a few hours after the death of Barnala’s mother, who was yet to be cremated.

Condemning the attitude, Sikandar Singh Jartoli, president the Punjab Government Teachers Union, said office-bearers of trade unions and leaders should not support teachers whose action hurt members of another family.



Lavish parties causing complex in kids
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Birthday celebrations are no longer as simple as they have been in the past. A majority of birthday parties of kids and youngsters of the elite class in city today depict nothing but oneupmanship and show-off culture, giving a complex to those whose parents fail to organise lavish parties due to limited salaries.

Psychologists and middle-class citizens feel that there should be a limit to such parties as birthdays are celebrated to have fun and not to hurt the sentiments of those who cannot afford expensive parties.

Celebrating birthdays seem to have become a Herculean task for parents whose wards throw unreasonable demands just to ‘prove their worth’ among friends.

They put pressure on parents to organise parties at leading hotels or restaurants, arrange for magic shows, bungee jumping and game shows, order lavish menus and purchase expensive return gifts without caring about their parents’ pockets.

Puja Ohri, a child psychologist, holds parents, society and bad company responsible for building complexes among children. She says parents should tell the reality to their children.

“The child must not be encouraged to show off the family’s wealth or indulge in oneupmanship, but should be made to understand the priorities in life in a sympathetic manner,” she said.

Sheenam Ahuja (name changed) complained that she had to spend Rs 13,000 on the birthday of her 11-year-old son.

In a monthly income of Rs 40,000, it had become very difficult for the couple to spend one-third the amount on the lavish party.

But they had been left with no choice but to organise the party as the son refused to eat anything at home for two days.



SKS girls excel in university examination
Our Correspondent

Raikot, January 10
Students of BSc Nursing (I) of Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarbha (SKS) College of Nursing, Sarabha village, brought laurel by securing six top positions, including all top three positions in the annual exam held recently by Baba Farid University of Medical Science.

Neha Sharma, Harsimranjit Kaur and Sandeep Kaur bagged first, second and third positions, respectively.

Similarly, the sixth, seventh and eighth positions were also grabbed by the college girls.

In BSc Nursing (II) Harmanpreet Kaur got second position in the university. The fifth and sixth position was also bagged by the students of the college.

Chairman Avtar Singh Grewal congratulated the meritorious students.



Tewari bats for passport office in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 10
MP and national spokesperson for the All-India Congress Committee Manish Tewari has sought the setting up of a regional passport office (RPO) in the city.

He maintained that despite Malwa being the biggest region in Punjab, there was no passport office in the region.

In a letter to external affairs minister SM Krishna, which was released here today, Tewari said the Malwa region consisted of nine districts - Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda, Ferozpure, Muktsar, Faridkot, Moga and Ludhiana - and the area did no have a convenient access to a passport office.

He said three RPOs in Punjab were located in Amritsar, Jalandhar and Chandigarh.

People of the nine districts in the Malwa region had to travel long distances in order to get their passport related work done.

He added that it was ironical that Ludhiana, largest industrial hub in the northern India, did not have a passport office.

Pleading for setting up a passport office in the city, he said it was the largest city in the Malwa region, hence an ideal location for an RPO.

Moreover, a large number of people from the region were settled abroad and people frequently traveled to other countries for which they needed a 



Level crossing a bane of motorists, residents
Lovleen Bains

Sahnewal, January 10
The level crossing at Sahnewal remains a headache not only for motorists but also for residents, shopkeepers and pedestrians who suffer frequent traffic congestions on the single main market road.“The level crossing sometimes remains closed for long periods for multiple train passage, thus testing the patience of commuters waiting on both sides of the crossing,” rues a commuter.

The commuters allege that there have been frequent scuffles with the railway employee manning the crossing over the issue of closure of gate for long durations.

“The level crossing remains closed most of the times and it takes at least half an hour’s wait for motorists each time the gate is lowered. This happens nearly 10 to 15 times every day,” rues a resident.

The frequent pleas and requests to the administration and the government have fallen on deaf ears.

According to the owner of a garments shop: “Shoppers face great difficulty negotiating the traffic jam caused by the level crossing to reach their shop. Hardly does the vehicular traffic clear, a fresh jam follows as the crossing is shut for the passage of another train. Sometimes, the gate is lifted only after two or three trains have passed.”

Another shopkeeper says: “Frequent traffic jams have become the order of the day. Also, minor accidents and scuffles due to severe congestion are commonplace. Moreover, vehicles, instead of followingtraffic rules, create chaos on the road, making things hard forpedestrians.”

According to a sweets shop owner: “The pollution caused by vehicles affects their business, as people avoid buying eatables, sweets and fruits from their shops. Most of the material goes waste at the end of the day.”

Sahnewal is a main shopping centre for people of adjoining villages. Residents have demanded a bypass or a bridge to ease the bottleneck.



Raw material price hike hits manufacturers hard
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
The sudden 8 per cent hike in the prices of plywood and plyboards has left manufacturers in the region high and dry.

The manufacturers rue that in the recent times, there has been a 20 per cent hike in prices of raw material and chemicals and they have been left with no other option but to increase the rates of plywood/boards.

Due to acute labour shortage and power tariff hike, their businesses have further been affected badly, allege the manufacturers.

Ashok Juneja, secretary general, Punjab Plywood Manufacturers’ Association, says the plywood industry has suffered huge losses because of sudden increase in input costs.

Erratic power supply, power tariff hike and labour shortage are some of the reasons that have further aggravated the problem. “The state government should rollback the power tariff hike to save the plywood industry,” says Juneja.

Association president Inderjit Singh Sohal says they have been facing problems due to a sense of “insecurity” in labour class. Labour is not willing to work in the city, especially after the recent incidents of violence against them.

“Our industry depends on labour force and in the absence of sufficient number of labourers, the units suffer. There is a need to bring back the lost confidence of migrant labourers. The government should make efforts for providing enough security to workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar,” says Sohal.

Besides, the plywood manufacturers have also started appealing to farmers to grow more and more poplar trees to provide relief to the plywood industry and boost the agro-industry in state.

“We are being held responsible for increase in the prices of plywood but we really cannot help if rates of poplar and eucalyptus (used for making boards) have gone up by 20 per cent in the past six months. Besides, prices of several chemicals used in making boards have also been increased in the recent times,” adds Sohal.



Chitra enthralls audience
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Residents braved chill to attend the “Ruhani Shaam” at Guru Nanak Dev Bhavan here yesterday. Audiences were in sync with Roy’s Sufism. The lull of the hall was broken when Chitra sang “Bolo Govind, bolo Gopala”. And then came string of bhajans.

Chitra’s Sufiana kalam “Swassa mala de naal simran main tera naam” transported those present to another realm. The evening was organised by the local chapter of the Art of Living.

Chitra said one should be grateful to the mother earth.

“We sow one seed and it gives us plenty of grains to eat. If we give one rupee to somebody, the god returns it in lakhs. We should always be grateful to god for giving us this beautiful planet to live and must try to preserve it,” she said.



Fluctuating steel prices worry bicycle industry
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
The ever-increasing prices of steel have become a cause for concern for the bicycle industry here.

The exporters, in particular, have been finding it hard to meet the deadline for orders, as the prices of steel were lower during the time of booking of orders.

Blaming the central government for the mess, exporters say the government has failed to curb the monopolistic behaviour of five major steel giants in the country.

Neelam Cycles MD KK Seth says the prices of steel have gone up by Rs 4,000 per tonne in the past one week. He feels exporters are finding it hard to deliver the products to other countries at previous rates.

The fluctuating prices have caused huge losses to exporters in this part of the region.

He adds that five major steel giants, including SAIL, TATA, ESSAR, ISPAT and Jindal, have made a cartel and decide on the price as per their convenience.

“We had met with the Prime Minister earlier on this issue and he had assured of constituting a regulatory committee to decide on steel prices. However, no outcome has come of it yet. The prices are fluctuating on a daily basis, putting more burden on exporters,” he said.

The city has been a major export industry of cycle and its parts to countries like Tanzania, Mozambique, Kenya, Nigeria, Bangladesh, The Gulf, Europe and the US.

The cycle industry is doing a whopping business of Rs 800 crore annually through exports but the recent hike in steel prices has lowered the margins of exporters.

United Cycles and Parts Manufacturers’ Association general secretary Varinder Kapoor says the price of steel have reached Rs 34,400 per tonne in the recent times whereas last month it was Rs 30,300.

He says the government has failed to contain the cartel controlling steel in the country. The major players have become the only deciding authority.

Secondly, so many industrial packages are being given to neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, etc. but Punjab seems to be nowhere on the priority list of the central government.

“We get our orders booked around three to five months in advance. The orders are booked keeping in mind the then prices of steel in the market. If prices of steel keep on increasing, exporters are bound to bear losses. The government should intervene at the earliest to save the cycle industry,” says Kapoor.



Workshop on fashion marketing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
Ivanna Institute of Fashion Technology yesterday conducted a workshop on fashion marketing for students pursuing graduation and post-graduation under the PTU Distance Learning.

Resource person Pooja Chatley, lecturer in business management, gave tips on effective and creative marketing skills.

She stressed the need for analysing consumer needs and making fashion available to the consumer at convenient location and also by a process suitable to the product.

The three steps involved in marketing — planning, implementation and evaluation — were discussed.

The speaker stressed the role of potential consumer, who was important and indispensable.

She also made the students aware about the duplication and copying, differentiation of the product, price-centric buying and segmentation of the market and consumers.



Finance firm, transporter booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 10
The Sidhwan Bet police has booked a finance company and a transporter for getting a truck financed that was found to be stolen.

SHO Balvir Singh said the police had recovered a truck (PB 04 M 9866) from a bridge of a canal near Sidhwan Bet.

When the police tried to locate the owner of the truck, they found the engine number and chassis number of the vehicle mismatching with that on the registration certificate.

In the meantime, Sukhwinder Singh of Rurki Kalan village, near Amargarh, in Sangrur district came to the police station claiming that the truck, which had broken down near the canal bridge, was his.

He had brought along a mechanic from Jagraon. He said he had no money when the truck broke down.

He went to his village and came back after arranging the money to get the 
truck repaired.

When he came to know that the truck was a stolen one, he produced papers showing that he had purchased the truck from Jagjit Singh Gill, owner of DC Gill Transport, by paying Rs 2 lakh.

The truck was financed for Rs 5.88 lakh in the name of Jagjit Singh by Shriram Finance Company, Ludhiana.

He was to pay the installments and had paid two installments already.

The police learned that the original owner of the truck was Amandeep Singh of Moga but they failed to locate him at the address given in the DTO record.

The original registration number of the truck was later found to be HR 38 M 6207.

On the statement of Sukhwinder Singh, the police booked Jagjit Singh Gill and Shriram Finance Company under Sections 379, 411, 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471, IPC.No arrest has been made so far.



Jail inmates caught sneaking in drugs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 10
A central jail official caught three prisoners last evening who had received drugs filled in a soft drink bottle and were planning to distribute it among prisoners.

Assistant superintendent Dev Raj received a tip-off that undertrials Balwinder Singh, Achardeep Singh and Sandeep Singh, residents of Nawanshahr, who had been undergoing jail terms in an assault case, were in possession of a mobile phone.

He said the accused were giving directions to their accomplice, who was standing outside the jail.

The trio told their accomplice to throw the drugs, filled in a plastic soft drink bottle, over the jail wall.

Jail superintendent Kuldeep Singh said Dev Raj went to the spot in the disguise of an inmate and the prisoners took the official to be their accomplice.

As soon as the contraband was thrown inside the jail, the official nabbed the trio red-handed and recovered the mobile phone from their possession.

The trio tried to manhandle the official. Three packets of a powder were recovered from the bottle, which were sent to the forensic science laboratory for examination.

The police booked the trio under Sections 353, 332 and 186 of the IPC and Sections 85, 61 and 22 of the NDPS Act.

The police was scanning the mobile phone details of the prisoners and searching the details of the accomplice who made the last call and threw the drugs inside the jail.



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