L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


9-year old raped, murdered
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
In a chilling incident, a minor girl was allegedly abducted, raped and murdered at Kali Sarak here. Her body was found dumped in a vacant plot this morning.

The nine-year-old girl, daughter of a migrant couple, was abducted last night. The police said she was killed to eliminate evidence. She went missing between 8.30 pm and 9 pm from her house in Lajpat Nagar.

The victim’s parents live in a small quarter with their four children. The mother of the victim said her daughter had gone to a nearby kiryana store.

“She wanted to go for a marriage nearby, but I refused. After some time, she was missing. I thought she must be around as she had left her slippers near the bed. I got worried when she could not be found in the locality,” her mother cried.

They, along with area residents, went to look for the girl and her father reported the matter to the police at 2 am after they failed to find her.

A massive search operation was conducted and the body was found at dawn. Police sources said the girl seemed to have died when she was being raped.

Mandeep Singh, Jodhewal SHO, suspected that she might have either died of internal bleeding or suffocated to death due to gagging. It was not yet clear how many accused were involved in the crime, he said.

The news spread and hundreds of workers gathered at the spot. The ADCP-D, Harinderjit Singh, along with other senior officers, reached the spot.

Later, the body was taken to the Civil Hospital and a postmortem was conducted. The SHO has asked for the DNA of the victim to be preserved.

Statements to police

l The victim’s mother said her girl had gone to buy snacks. She returned home, but after a few minutes, she went missing.

l Ashwani Kumar, owner of the kiryana store, confirmed that the victim had purchased snacks from him, but he did not see her roaming in the street later.

l Her brother said he was watching television and did not see her go outside again.

l Her younger sister said she saw her sister sneaking out of the house, but thought she was going to get more snacks.

l The father of the victim said he had no idea when she went missing. He was told by his wife about the incident.

Unanswered questions

l The Lajpat Nagar market remains busy till late in the evening and it is not possible to abduct a girl unnoticed. How she was abducted remains a mystery for the police.

l No marriage was taking place in the area last night, but a party was going on in the neighbourhood. Where did the victim actually want to go?

Kin, family friend suspects

The police is suspecting the involvement of an insider in the crime as it was difficult to abduct a girl from Lajpat Nagar without being noticed.

Her body was found from a vacant plot, barely 2 km from the house, which suggests that the accused must have been aware of the area and the place where the crime could be carried out undetected.

The role of Ramesh, a friend of the family, has also come under scanner.

Suspicion rose after nail marks were spotted on his neck. He told the police that he had a quarrel with his wife last night and during a fight, he got hurt.


3 dead, 4 hurt in pileup
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Three persons were killed and four injured, including a one- year-old child, after two cars collided with a truck near Kohara on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road here today.

The deceased have been identified as Parminder Singh, his mother Surjit Kaur and Balwinder Kaur. The injured are Parminder’s wife, Manjinder Kaur, and daughter Kirat Kaur, Amandep Singh and Jagvir Singh. They have been hospitalised.

The incident took place at around 4.30 pm this evening when the driver of the 18-tyre truck (PB-05-A-9961), heading towards the city from Chandigarh, suddenly lost control near Chak Sarvan Nath village and stopped horizontally in the middle of the road.

A speeding Skoda (PB-10- CA-2553), driven by Parminder Singh of Sahibwana village who was returning home after attending a wedding at Machhiwara, could not apply the brake on time and rammed the car into the truck.

Parminder, Surjit Kaur and Balwinder died on the spot while Amandeep and Jagvir, who were travelling in another car, had a miraculous escape.

According to an eyewitness, the car hit the truck and overturned.

A JCB and iron cutters were pressed into service to pull out the bodies. The accident resulted in a traffic jam and the police had to divert traffic.

The driver of the truck fled from the spot. The police has booked him for negligent driving. 



Over 50 pc water samples fail
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
More than 50 per cent of the 122 samples of potable water collected in February from various localities of the city have failed the test, indicating a rise in water-borne diseases this summer.

The samples had been collected from gastroenteritis-prone areas like Giaspura, Fauji Colony, Janta Nagar, Basti Jodhewal and Jawahar Camp. These areas have a history of gastroenteritis outbreak every year followed by deaths.

The department of health and family welfare collected the samples in the presence of MC employees responsible for the supply of potable water.

The department of health is a coordinator of the water sanitation committee formed by the DC. Members are drawn from the MC, zila parishad and water sanitation and have to submit affidavits regarding the supply of clean drinking water, besides disposal of solid waste, prevention of sewage leakage in drinking water and cleaning of water in areas where the water table has depleted.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Maninderjit Singh, said the Punjab and Haryana High Court has demanded these affidavits from the DC of all districts to ensure the supply of clean water and hygienic environment in rural as well as urban areas.

“The department of health and family welfare will coordinate with all departments and a meeting of SMOs has been called. They have been briefed to carry out group meetings to educate people against water-borne diseases,” he said.

District epidemiologist GP Mangla said the report of water samples taken every month would be sent to the DC. Apart from providing people with chlorine tablets, they would rope in NGOs, mohalla committee pradhans and councillors to spread awareness.

The emphasis would be on low-lying areas that had the maximum concentration of migrant population as they were the worst sufferers when it came to diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, jaundice and cholera, the district epidemiologist added.



Army calls off recruitment rally at last minute
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Hundreds of youths who had come to participate in the recruitment rally of 103 Infantry Battalion of Territorial Army were left high and dry when the rally was cancelled without prior notice today.

Army aspirants from various parts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal reached the venue for the rally, only to be told by the guards that the rally had been cancelled.

No officer was available to answer the queries of youths who wanted to know when to come back. Also, no notice board had been put up.

“I wanted to join the Army and had been preparing for the past many days. But I am shocked to see that nobody was present at the venue to tell us what had happened,” Kuldeep Singh, a graduate who had came from Ambala district, stated, adding that he had boarded a bus early in the morning to reach here.

Ajay Kumar, a youth from Una, said he had arrived last night so that he could reach the venue in time.

“We were told that there were no vacancies. We fail to understand why they announced the rally in the first place,” he rued.

The PRO of 103 Battalion headquarters at Srinagar, Lt Col JS Brar, said he had no information about the announcement and cancellation of the rally. He refused to comment further.



Bogus billing for Rs 4 cr detected
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
A firm indulging in bogus billing to claim input tax credit (ITC) to the tune of Rs 4 crore from the state government came under the scanner of the excise and taxation department here today.

More such bogus firms are expected to be tracked. Mehak Sales Corporation was indulging in bogus billing with firms across the state. It was involved in sale-purchase transactions with firms located in Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala and Sangrur.

The modus operandi adopted by the proprietor, Gurjit Singh, was that he would get sales tax number for selling vegetable oil while he was actually an iron dealer. The billing was made for vegetable oil. The assistant commissioner, excise and taxation, HPS Ghotra, said the turnover of Mehak Sales Corporation in 2008 was Rs 100.32 crore, but he did not show it while filing his returns.

“The firm was in nexus with other firms. It was only after checking the statements of other companies that we came to know the company was involved in sales and purchases, but in the return, it showed nothing,” he said. Arrest warrants had been issued. 



Human parts exhumed, 3 held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
With the exhuming of human remains, the Sarabha Nagar police claimed to have solved a murder case and arrested three persons in this connection yesterday.

A massive combing operation was initiated at around 9 pm last night by the police following which the police dug out a skeleton said to be of a “prominent” person from a vacant plot. The accused had told the police about the location where the body had been buried.

Beant Juneja, SHO of Sarabha Nagar, said the police had recovered human remains, but refused to give details. He added that the operation was still on and more details would be available by morning.



Power Cuts
Extended weekly off has industry fuming
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
With the outset of summer, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has increased “weekly off” timing on industry from one to two days. The increase in the duration of the timing has further crippled the industrial sector.

With the industry already grappling with global meltdown, non refund of VAT by the Punjab government and ever-increasing prices of steel, imposition of power cuts have only aggravated their situation.

Upkar Singh, joint secretary of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings, while condemning the action of the PSEB, said: “Summer has just begun and the state is already in the grip of power crisis. If this is the situation of power supply now, we can only imagine the situation during the paddy season from June to September.”

Currently, the demand is 1,210 lakh units whereas the availability is just 1,080 lakh units. In the coming days, the demand will rise to 2,200 lakh units.

Adding Badish Kumar Jindal, chairman, Punjab chapter of the Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India, said: “March is a crucial month for the industry as the industry requires to fulfil all its quarterly and yearly contracts of domestic, government and export commitments.”

He added that the paddy season was still far away and the domestic demand was low due to good weather. In such a situation, long power cuts would only add to the woes of the industry, he said.

Industrial sector in the city fears that if the power cuts continue for some more months, the products manufactured in Punjab will lose their competitiveness in the national and international market and manufacturers will not be able to deliver the products on time.

Avtar Singh, general secretary of the chamber, said the Punjab government had imposed 3 per cent electricity duty to fetch an extra Rs 270 crore a year but it was doubtful if the board would have enough funds to purchase power to meet the peek season demand.



City Concerns
Residents demand pollution-free public transport

In the absence of public transport facilities in the city residents have to depend on their own vehicles or autorickshaws to reach their destinations. The latter, which emit toxic gases into the air, have been identified as the city’s major polluters. The growing numbers of private vehicles, too, are adding to the high emission levels of these noxious gases. With concern about rising air pollution increasing the world over, the residents need to wake up.

A switchover to CNG and introduction of a metro rail as well as local bus services were some of the proposals mooted in the past to address the problem, but nothing has been done to give them concrete shape till date.

Should the city go in for a metro system and CNG in place of diesel as fuel? What can be done to alleviate the problems related to auto emissions? Readers of Ludhiana Tribune chip in:

Replace old autos with CNG vehicles

With the huge jump in population and growing industrialization, and spurred by the launch of new models, the number of vehicles is steadily increasing. Nowadays every one prefers to drive in his own vehicle to reach his destination.

Private vehicles as well as autorickshaws are adding to the rising emission levels. As an immediate step all autos emitting high level of venomous gases should be stopped from plying and be replaced with those running on CNG. Henceforth, the transport authorities should only register CNG vehicles. The administration should install devices to check pollution at petrol stations and ensure no vehicle, private or commercial, that is found highly polluting is refilled. This practice would the most effective way to check vehicle pollution.

Jai Gopal Kusla

Impose curbs on plying of vehicles

Urban air pollution is a direct result of vehicular emissions and unplanned mobility management. Ad hoc solutions and poorly researched policy directives only add to the compounding concerns. With its fast growth and lack of integrated solutions, the city is an easy prey to the myriad health problems that are caused by air pollution. Autorickshaws, plying everywhere on the city streets, and said to be the prime cause of vehicular pollution. are increasing day by day. However, because of strong unions and political backing any action taken against them usually proves to be futile.

Along with the city administration, individuals can also make a difference in the effort to reduce pollution from various types of vehicles. How one drives and takes care of his or her vehicle affects fuel economy and pollution emissions. Measures that encourage us to drive less can help much to curb vehicular pollution and protect natural resources and public health. Besides this, factors like avoiding driving at high speed and frequent stopping, using cleaner fuels, adopting pollution control technology, simple vehicle maintenance and driving as little as possible are the best ways to reduce air pollution. Furthermore, the authorities should impose restrictions on plying of vehicles to reduce air pollution.

Bhawna Garg

Mini-buses ideal for long distances

It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that the state’s industrial hub does not have a viable public transport system. It speaks volumes of the vision of the politicians and bureaucrats, past and present, who never gave a thought to coming up with a solution. There is no dearth of experts within the administration to tackle the problems, only that some vested interests and political considerations come in the way. Merely laying foundation stones and getting photographed for publicity will not solve the problem. The media should make it a point not to highlight stone laying ceremonies but only cover launch of development projects on their completion. Lakhs of rupees wasted on media publicity about stone laying ceremonies should instead be spent on development work.

In the absence of a public transport system a parallel private vehicle system has flourished and the habit of using public transport has gone. To meet transport needs more and more private vehicles are being added on the roads every day and this is choking traffic as well as polluting the air. The administration is a silent spectator and automobile companies are having a gala time. Rationing of petrol, ceiling on owning of vehicles by a family may be not a surefire solution but if the public transport system is economical, safe and comfortable, people will opt for it. The Delhi metro is a good example.

City residents as well as visitors do need public transport. Every city needs a ‘three-tier’ public transport system to travel, short, medium and long distances. To cover short distances people should form the habit of brisk walking and using bicycles, as they are good for health. To cover medium distances, autorickshaws are ideal as they suit every pocket.

For long distances mini-buses can be made operational within a short span. Subsequently a metro rail should be planned but it will take substantial time to be operational. Last not the least politicians should have the will to ensure compliance with no favoritism.

Amarjeet Singh Batth

Fuel cell vehicles may cut emissions

Keeping in view the ongoing scenario of running vehicles and its pollution in the city since last few years, it has become necessary for the public to know about vehicular pollution and its effects on a human body before the city administration is able to find a suitable substitute to eradicate or reduce the same. The administration must promote hydrogen fuel cell and electric vehicles that do not burn fuel but use electrochemical process instead to produce the needed energy to run the engines. Fuel cell vehicles run on electricity that is produced directly from the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, and the only by product is water. That is why fuel cell cars and trucks are called zero-emission vehicles. Electric vehicles store energy in an onboard battery, emitting nothing from its tailpipe.

Further, the hydrogen for fuel cell and the electricity for the battery must still be produced somewhere, so there will still be upstream emissions associated with these vehicles. However, these stationery sources are easier to control and can ultimately be converted to use wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to come as close as possible to true zero-emission vehicles.

Shivanshu Garg

Traffic-free zones can reduce congestion

The city is all set to earn the dubious title as the country’s most polluted city. Residents are busy accumulating wealth, having scant regard for a clean environment where their progeny could breathe. The number of vehicles has grown manifold and all efforts to combat traffic problems prove futile and inadequate. Roads need to be widened. The drive to wipe out encroachments has been widely acclaimed. Parking spaces at markets and educational institutions should be invariably provided and vehicles parked on roads may be toed and fined heavily. Primary schoolchildren should not be allowed to cover a distance of one kilometer from their houses. The menace of teenage driving may be checked sincerely. Accountability may be enforced to reap bumper crop of benefits.

Buses on city roads will worsen the present situation. Instead, heavy traffic should be banned on city roads. Certain areas need be declared traffic-free zones. We are contributing liberally to global warming by indulging into fuel-burning exercises. Shifting to CNG is a must. Completion of a ring road around the city should be given top priority. The metro rail will definitely provide relief to people besides reducing emissions. It will ease traffic congestion on roads as has been proved in other metros.

DN Sharma



‘Sarswati Samman’
CM felicitates Dr Surjit Patar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today felicitated Punjabi poet Dr Surjit Patar, recipient of “Sarswati Samman-2009” for his book “Lafzaan de Dargah”.

In a message, the Chief Minister described Dr Patar as an icon in the world of Punjabi poetry who through his command of language had made an immense contribution towards the promotion and development of “Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiyat”.

Jails, tourism and cultural affairs minister Hira Singh Gabria also congratulated the poet, adding that Dr Patar had done the city proud by bagging the award.

He said Dr Patar had played a vital role in promoting Punjabi language, literature and Punjabi culture through his writings.

Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari extended his greetings to the poet, stating that having been selected for the prestigious award out of 24 languages of the country was a matter of honour.

He added that writers and poets were the mirror of society as they wrote against social evils and tried to bring about an elemental change in society by voicing their progressive thoughts in the form of prose and poetry.



LPG dealers not playing fair
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
In clear violation of the Essential Commodities Act, LPG dealers in the city are refusing to give new connections to consumers if they do not buy accessories like hot plates, cleaning brushes and pipes.

To top it, these dealers are selling the accessories on double the market price.

A new connection costs the consumer Rs 3,800 as the LPG agencies, in addition to the security charges of Rs 1,200, are selling the hot plates for Rs 2,500 against the market price of about Rs 1,000.

The National Consumer Awareness Group’s general secretary, Dr Shiv Gupta, making this shocking revelation, stated that an LPG distributor had refused to issue a new connection on the pretext of “unavailability” of the regulator, receipt book and gas cylinder.

“A consumer, Sanjeev, had refused to buy a gas chullah from the dealer concerned which is why the distributor is making excuses for not issuing a new connection,” he alleged.

He even lodged a complaint on the helpline of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited against its dealer, but no action has been taken yet.

Alleging that the district food and civil supplies department had failed to take action against erring LPG distributors, he stated that checks/raids conducted by officials were mere eyewash as no concrete action was taken to curb this corrupt practise.

The group has appealed the director, food and civil supplies, Punjab, the DC and the Vigilance Bureau to take action against gas agencies indulging in malpractices that amount to consumer harassment.



Let courts decide fate of vendetta cases: Dullo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Senior Congress leader and former Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee chief Shamsher Singh Dullo yesterday said only workers of political parties were facing political vendetta while leaders were facing corruption charges.

Stating that corruption was a serious issue and needed to be nailed, he said if the corruption cases in courts were withdrawn, leadership and bureaucracy would become even more corrupt.

“There are already many instances of corruption. Even voters were being lured by being offered sops. If leaders were allowed to go scot free before court’s decision, they would indulge in corrupt practices even more,” he said while making it clear that he was against the withdrawal of cases.

The senior Congress leader demanded constitution of a commission to take stock of properties of politicians and bureaucrats so that they could be prosecuted.

“Both sides have so much money that you cannot imagine. We need to take a step to curb the malpractice if we want the country to tread the path of development,” he remarked.

Criticising the “unnecessary sympathy” being extended towards them under the garb of vendetta, Dullo said such cases should instead be tried in fast-track courts so that people could get a true picture.

“They will come out clean if they are not corrupt. And if they are, they will be prosecuted. We should repose our faith in the judiciary. Let the courts decide. The only thing is to let the court reach the conclusion fast and do the needful,” he said.



Poor sanitation ails courts complex
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, March 24
Thousands of litigants and lawyers have been forced to make do with insanitary conditions prevailing in the local district courts complex for the past many years.

The stench emanating from public conveniences is such that it even difficult stand outside the toilets. Consequently, people have difficulty using these public conveniences.

The six-storey judicial complex also lacks potable drinking water. Employees are forced to purchase water by sharing money with their colleagues. Even litigants bring their own drinking water from home.

Initially, taps were affixed outside the public conveniences but these were used by general public for washing hands and drinking water at the same time.

Now, a majority of taps have been stolen and there is hardly any drinking water available.

This has come as a boon for canteen owners, as they do brisk business selling water bottles to parched visitors.

The only water cooler installed near the retiring room of the district and sessions judge serves little purpose as it is barely visible to visitors.

District Bar Association president Naval Kishore Chhibber said: “We are aware of the problem being faced by litigants, lawyers and judicial employees. We have brought it to the knowledge of the authorities concerned. However, nothing has been done in this regard so far due to the lackadaisical attitude of officials.”

Also, cleanliness and maintenance of the complex is last on the priority list of the authorities.

The fencing around ramps have been missing at several places for the past several years.

DBA vice-president ND Chopra said they had also brought the problem to the knowledge of Sessions Judge SP Bangarh and he had instructed the officials of the PWD to act. However, nothing had been in this regard so far.

Former DBA president KR Sikri said: “We will request Justice Ashutosh Mohantta, administrative judge, who will be on a two-day visit to the city, to look into the problems by visiting public conveniences.”

In spite of several dignitaries visiting the courts complex to attend functions organised by the District Bar Association in the past, nothing has been done to improve basic amenities there.

The PWD minister had promised to solve the problem during his visit a year ago but to no avail.



Panel submits memo to SDM
Our Correspondent

Raikot, March 24
Members of the anti-devastation committee yesterday staged a protest march from the grain market to the SDM’s office and handed over a memorandum to the SDM, Mukand Singh, demanding the immediate withdrawal of demolition notices to those having properties on scheduled roads. In the absence of Mukand Singh, the naib tehsildar received the memorandum.

In 2004, certain roads of Punjab were declared scheduled roads. Two such roads -- Ludhiana-Bathinda road and Jagraon-Malerkotla road -- pass through the thickly populated town of Raikot. Residents were ordered to raise constructions on their properties after leaving 33 ft along either side of the scheduled roads. Some landlords, in violation of the orders, raised constructions and 42 of them were issued notices by the municipal committee to demolish the building on their own or face action. They were informed that the demolition would be undertaken by the department.

The affected parties, instead of clearing irregular constructions, constituted an anti-devastation committee to oppose the decision of the government. The committee is now demanding that a notification on the pattern of the Haryana government should be issued, declaring buildings irregular that were constructed after 2009.

Yesterday, the committee asked the municipal committee to withdraw the notices, failing which it would take out a procession against the decision of the government. Committee members said the declaration of roads passing through the densely populated area as scheduled roads was illogical and amendment must be made to the Punjab Scheduled Roads and Controlled Area Restriction of Irregular Development Act to save residents from incurring heavy losses.

The SDM, however, stated that nothing was in his hands as it was a policy matter, but he would forward the memorandum to the authorities concerned.



Repair work on road begins
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, March 24
The much-awaited repair work on the Kohara-Machhiwara road started yesterday, bringing relief to thousands of commuters who travel daily on this stretch.

Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, and Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, chairman of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, jointly laid the foundation stone at Harrian village, around 13 km from Kohara on the Kohara-Machhiwara road. The road was last repaired in 2006 but due to heavy traffic, it suffered damage in just two years after repairs.

Daily commuters had been suffering due to the bad condition of the road. The stretch between Panjeta and Bhaman Kalan villages was badly damaged, forcing people of the area to use alternative routes to reach their destinations.

The total length of the road is 19 km and Rs 8.72 crore will be spent on the repair work, including strengthening of the road with two layers of stone metal. 



Bank branches don’t accept govt challans
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Small-scale industrialists, traders, businessmen and the corporate sector have expressed their annoyance at nationalised banks for not accepting government challans such as income tax, central excise duty, ESI/employees provident fund, public provident fund and VAT.

The anti-corruption forum president, Dr Krishan Rai Sharma, in a press note issued here appealed to the chairmen of all nationalised banks and chairman of the Indian Bank Association and the union finance minister to direct the banks to accept government challans from them.

He mentioned that branches of banks like the State Bank of India, State Bank of Patiala, State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Hyderabad, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Canara Bank, and Syndicate Bank were not accepting such challans.

“Most of their branches divert the public to their main branches,” he added.

The forum said the Reserve Bank of India should take action against erring bank branches for refusing to accept the challans.



Commissioner inspects AC Market
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
RK Sharma, local Commissioner appointed by the district courts, visited AC Market, Calibre Plaza, to see the violation of building bylaws here today.

Accompanied by lawyer Rajiv Kaushal, Sharma surveyed the floors of the market to get first-hand information on illegal encroachments.

Kaushal said shopkeepers had filed a case in the local courts over illegal construction in the complex.

Following directions by the court, local Commissioner visited the market and had discussions with several shopkeepers.

Levelling allegations and counter-allegations, certain shopkeepers argued in front of the visiting official.

Sharma will submit the report to the court within this week, said Kaushal, adding that certain parts of the building were constructed without MC’s sanctioned plan.



Fogging effective only in humid weather: MC
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
With the onset of summer the threat of diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya spreading in the city has increased. According to municipal corporation officials, fogging would only be required after mid-June when the humidity level in the atmosphere reaches about 60-70 per cent. However, some of them felt the exercise was nothing but providing "mental satisfaction" to residents as mosquitoes had become resistant to the medicine being used for fogging.

According to available information, the civic body had purchased ten new fogging machines last year, bring the total number to 27.

AN MC official said on condition of anonymity that fogging was no longer effective in the present circumstances. "According to district health department doctors, fogging is a sheer wastage of the civic body’s money. Mosquitoes have become resistant to the particular medicine - technical Melathion - that is used during fogging. Sprays are more effective than fogging", the official added.

However, city residents are of the view that regular fogging could prevent breeding of mosquitoes. "Last year MC workers turned up only once for fogging in my locality. The MC did not have sufficient fogging machines. Fogging should be undertaken at regular intervals from May to August. In the absence of such preventive measures, cases of dengue fever and malaria have increased manifold in recent years. We believe if the authorities concerned, including the MC, district administration and health department, act in time these diseases can be prevented to an extent", said Yogesh Kumar, a resident of Rani Jhansi Road.

Health officer Dr Charanjit Uppal, however, said the MC would start with the fogging exercise once there was humidity in the atmosphere.

“The particular medicine being used during fogging is 95 per cent effective. Besides, it has been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Fogging will be of no use in current weather conditions when the mercury is hovering at around 30-35 degrees Celsius. It would be effective only during the rains and humid weather", Uppal said.



Fearing arrest, farmer leaders go into hiding
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 24
Fearing police raids as part of the stratagem to arrest leaders of 22 kisan and mazdoor outfits, regional and local leaders of protesting organisations have gone underground.

There organisations had announced to stage a three-day dharna in front of the IGP office, Amritsar, commencing on Thursday.

Though the leaders had earlier started visiting villages falling under their respective jurisdictions to mobilise activists to participate in the protest, they retreated to untold places when police started raiding their houses last night.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that a majority of office-bearers and leaders of almost all kisan and mazdoor organisations had gone underground after police teams started raiding their houses last night.

The Punjab Kisan Sabha leaders Sukhdev Singh Bari, Sikandar Singh Jartoli, Baldev Singh Latala, Tirlochan Singh Raikot, Jagdev Singh Garcha and Zamhoori Kisan Sabha leaders Mohinder Singh Seelon, Kirtan Singh Ghungrana, Bhajan Singh Barundi and Nirbhai Singh Boparai evaded arrest as they, receiving information about raids, slipped from their normal abodes.

However, Mohinder Singh Achharwal, district general secretary, Ranjit Singh Jita Bhaini Baringa, Sikandar Singh Shehbaz Pura, Jasbir Singh Lohatbaddi, Magghar Singh Boparai, Nirbhaia Singh Boparai and Laimbar Singh Taggar were reportedly “rounded up” by different police teams.

Accusing the police of facilitating a state-sponsored land mafia group, leaders alleged that the administration wanted to protect some SAD leaders who were behind cold-blooded murder of Sadhu Singh Takhtupura recently.

Higher police officers, instead of directing the investigating team to arrest the accused, had allegedly tried to protect certain leaders, including some legislators and former MLAs.

Sources close to leaders said the state body had advised them (leaders) to evade arrest by all means and reach the venue on Thursday.

According to the strategy adopted by the organisers, activists from each village will leave in their vehicles early in the morning and their leaders will join them at settled points on the way.

“We have to be cautious only during night. Once we gather near our vehicles, no force can stop us from reaching our destination tomorrow,” maintained Sikandar Singh Jartoli, while talking from an undisclosed place.

Meanwhile, other organisations, including the Punjab Students Union, the Punjab Government Teachers’ Union and the Maha Sabha, Ludhiana, have announced support to the agitation launched by kisan and mazdoor unions jointly.

Arun Kumar, member state executive body, PSU, Col JS Brar, president, MSL, Jaswant Singh Zirakh general secretary, Gallar Chauhan, patron, Lok Ekta Sangathan, Prof AK Maleri, president Zamhoori Adhikar Sabha, and Kanwaljit Singh Khanna, general secretary Inqlabi Kendar, have urged the government to stop undemocratic process of arresting peaceful protesters.



Lack of govt grant
Aided schools sans principals, teachers
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Khamano, March 24
Most government-aided recognised schools in Fatehgarh Sahib have been running without principals and teachers for the past many years.

In spite of repeated requests and representations to senior officials, nothing has been done in this regard so far, allege school teachers and officiating principals of these schools.

“We have been toiling hard to impart education to children. However, teachers are continuously being burdened with work without recruitment of fresh teachers,” says a teacher at a government-aided school in Sirhind.

Ravinder Joshi, district president, Punjab State Government Aided School Teachers Union, rues that school committees are being forced to give salaries to principals and teachers as the government has failed to recruit school principals and teachers.

Even school committees appointing teachers on behalf of the government do not get grants. The schools fail to raise funds as student’s fee is collected as per the government rules, he adds.

Teachers rue that despite tall claims of the government to improve education of government schools, nothing has been done at the ground level.

Nearly 4,000 posts of teacher in government-aided and recognised schools have been lying vacant. Even clerks and peons have not been appointed.

Around 50 posts of teacher have been lying vacant in six government-recognised schools of Fatehgarh Sahib for past many years.

Five schools have officiating principals and only one has its principal appointed as per the rules.

The teachers rue that no recruitment has been carried out by the government after 2003 and school committees have to take care of the salaries of school teachers and principals.

School teachers says these schools cannot collect fee from students like other private schools, which charge exorbitantly from their students.

Neither has the government given pension to retired teachers, nor has it given grants to pay salaries according to the new pay scales.

Grants are being delaying by six months and the same are being released only after persistent requests and representations, allege teachers.

They claim that they have given good results in the past and tough competition to private schools.

Nakesh Jindal, president of school administrative committee of Lala Lajpat Rai School, Bassi Pathana, demands that the government must pay heed to the long-standing demands of teachers. 



Students mesmerise with dance, songs
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 24
The 1st annual prize distribution function of Doraha Public School was held on the school premises here yesterday. Dr Inderpal Singh, former Pro Vice-Chancellor, GND University, Amritsar, was the chief guest.

A scintillating show of songs, skits and dances was put up by students. The programme started with shabad “Aaj Morey Aaye Hain” sung by senior classes, followed by a classical dance performed on song “Swagatam”. A play, “Nyaya”, relating to the exploitation of labour was also enacted by students.

Students of primary classes enacted a play based on the theme of saving environment. The students were dressed up like animals and trees..



Now, bicycle ride to cost more
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
After the prices of essential commodities, to add to the woes of poor man now even the bicycle rates have gone up by 10 per cent with the cycle manufacturers crying hoarse over the hike in steel prices.

While the price of bicycle is already up by Rs 50, it would now further go up by at least Rs 150 from April after the decision of the manufacturers.

"Since the cost of production is increasing manifold, accordingly we have to increase the price of the finished product as well," added KK Seth, director, Neelam Cycles.

The total increase would come into force after 10 days. ‘‘Though the steel prices have gone up by 15 per cent, we are increasing the bicycles by only 10 per cent so that the poor man may not feel the heat, ’’ he added.

Sources said the basic model of bicycle, being sold for Rs 2,300 would now go up between Rs 2,400 to Rs 2,450.

However, Onkar Singh Pahwa, MD Avon Cycles, said they would decide about the hike within a week after sitting together. ‘‘Not only the steel, but tyres too have gone dearer.’’

While the bicycle manufacturers have passed the buck on steel manufacturers, the latter blame it on the scarcity created by the Indian steel companies.

Badish Kumar Jindal, chairman of the Punjab Federation of Associations of Small Industries of India said: ‘‘Had it been the effect of a raise in Central excise duty that was enhanced by 2 per cent, the steel prices should have risen by not more than Rs 600 per tonne, but the steel producers have increased the price by more than Rs 4,000 a tonne.’’

While the major units are grappling with the hike after raising prices, the small cycle manufacturing units have been forced to shut down their operations due to the rising prices of the raw material. "Steel prices have doubled in the past two years. Our bank borrowing limits have not been enhanced. Some of the small units have shut down their operations rather than bearing the losses," said Tarlochan Singh, a small cycle manufacturer.



Contracts from other states a big relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
While the sale of cycles in the domestic market has come down considerably, as the prices of cycles are soaring high, contracts from neighbouring states like Gujarat and Maharashtra came as a breather for the local cycle industry during the current financial year.

Nova Cycles alone supplied 35 lakh bicycles to Gujarat and Maharashtra governments. The same contract was shared by three other major players from the city,
said Harmohinder Singh Pahwa, chief managing director, Nova Bicycles, during a dealers’ meet.

“Contracts from the neighbouring states during this year came as a respite for the industry, which was reeling under the impact of high steel prices, labour shortage and global meltdown that had its impact during the initial months of this financial year as well.”

Rohit Pahwa, CEO, said the Gujarat government had placed Nova as one of the top five brands in India. “Earlier, we had supplied bicycles to the Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh governments besides the Punjab government,” he said.

Pahwa said during the fiscal year, the company produced around two lakh cycles of different sizes. Six new models were also introduced by the company.



Murder case solved, 4 arrested
Victim had been missing since Sept 8
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
Four persons have been arrested in connection with the murder of a man who had gone missing under mysterious circumstances on September 8 last year.

The mortal remains of the victim, Pappu Yadav, were exhumed from a vacant plot in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar here last evening, where the victim was buried after being strangulated.

The accused have been identified as Hira Jha, Hemant Kumar, Chandan Kumar and Kailash.

Three accused were arrested from different locations in the city, while the Bihar police arrested the fourth accused, Kailash, who had fled to Bihar.

The police said the accused were arrested after the police got hold of mobile record and mobile location of Pappu Yadav, which indicated the involvement of the accused behind his disappearance.

Ganesh Yadav, brother of the victim, also suspected the involvement of the four accused and even lodged a complaint of kidnapping at the Sarabha Nagar police station.

SHO Beant Juneja said during interrogation, the accused cracked and confessed to committing the crime.

The accused alleged that the Pappu Yadav became instantly rich and used to boast about his wealth. The accused had got jealous of Pappu’s habit of bragging about money.

Hira Jha along with the other three hatched a conspiracy to kill Pappu.

On September 8, Hira, Kailash, Hemant and Chandan reached Pappu’s house and invited him for dinner.

Later, they took him to the SBS Nagar on the pretext of drinking liquor. When they reached near a garbage dump at SBS Nagar, Kailash strangulated Pappu with a belt, while the other three overpowered the victim.

After killing Pappu, they stuffed the body in a gunny bag and buried it in a pit. The body was exhumed last night. The relatives identified the victim from the clothes.

The accused told the police that they had taken Rs 3,000 in cash from the pocket of the victim and also got hold of the ATM card from which they withdrew Rs 20,000.

According to the police, the accused also took the mobile phone of the victim, while led to their arrest.

ACP Raj Kumar said the mobile phone of Pappu was put on surveillance and was found from the possession of the accused, establishing the suspicion of the police.



Two killed in accidents
Tribune News Service

Khanna, March 24
Two persons lost their lives in separate accidents here during the past 24 hours. Sukhdev Singh of Doraha was hit by a speeding Scorpio near Hambowal Bait village at Machhiwara yesterday. He was rushed to the Civil Hospital where he was declared brought dead. Sukhdev was on his way to Doraha on a motorcycle when he was hit by an SUV.

The driver of the SUV has been identified as Amrik Singh and a case has been registered against him at the Machhiwara police station.

In another accident, Shamsher Singh of Rampur village, near Doraha, was hit by an unidentified vehicle. He died on the spot.

His body was noticed by some passersby yesterday and the matter was brought to the notice of the police.

A case has been registered in this regard by the police.



Man booked for forgery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 24
The police has booked a man for trying to procure second passport by submitting fake documents.

The accused, identified as Gulab Singh, alias Hargulab Singh of Bagga Khurd, was booked following the complaint of regional passport office for trying to possess a second passport by giving false details.

The Ladhowal police had asked for details from regional passport office, Chandigarh, following a complaint against Gulab Singh of having submitted fake documents.

When the passport officials cross-checked the documents, it was found that Gulab Singh had changed his name in order to obtain a second passport.

Initially, the police tried to keep the matter under wrap, but passport officials demanded the arrest of the culprit.

Gulab Singh was earlier booked by Division No. 5 police in an alleged human trafficking case. The accused is on the run.



Husband booked for seeking dowry
Tribune News Service

Khanna, March 24
The police yesterday booked Jagjit Singh of Bija village on the complaint of his wife Surjit Kaur.

In her complaint to the police, Surjit Kaur alleged that her husband had been demanding dowry from her. He used to beat her up for not bringing adequate dowry, she alleged.

The family members of the victim and panchayat members had intervened umpteen times over the issue but to no avail.

The police has registered a case on a complaint lodged by the woman with the help of her family members. 



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 |