L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Monday Special
Meant for poor, ‘charity’ hospitals strike it rich
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Illustration by Sandeep Joshi

Ludhiana, May 9
Contrary to their commitment to serve the needy and poor, charitable hospitals and other healthcare institutions in the city appear to have come up with every possible way to make money, which has only aggravated the woes of those belonging to economically weaker sections of society.

These hospitals, which include some of the city’s leading medical institutions that cater to patients from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir, enjoy special benefits like exemption/rebate on income, sales and value added tax as well as subsidized power. Unlike other commercial establishments they are charged domestic electricity tariffs.

However, these charitable hospitals and institutions have failed to abide by the guidelines issued by the central government to provide inexpensive medical treatment to poor patients at subsidized charges.

Most of these hospitals draw up hefty bills for various investigative tests, bed charges, medicines and doctors’ consultation fees that the poor patients are unable to pay. When a patient contacts the hospital’s PRO or administrative officials for getting the bill reduced he is given certain “discounts” under the ‘poor patients’ category. However, even the “discounted” bills are unaffordable.

Most of the city’s charitable hospitals located in New Tagore Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, Ferozepur Road, Old Sabzi Mandi, Model Town and Shastri Nagar were provided land by the Punjab government at subsidized prices. The aim was to facilitate these institutions in providing good-quality and inexpensive healthcare facilities to the poor.

However, these hospitals seem to have replaced their “philanthropic zeal” with a rabid fervour to make everything turn a profit as is evident from the huge amount of money taken for awarding contracts for their inhouse drugstores.

A charitable hospital in the city recently awarded such a contract for its drugstore for Rs 30 lakh for the year 2010 but the generic medicines are sold there at prices much higher than the original ones.

Also, many doctors are involved in the unethical practice of prescribing patented medicines dispensed at these drug stores, which are manufactured by pharmaceutical MNCs and are much more costlier as compared to generic drugs. In turn the doctors enjoy freebies like sponsored tours and expensive gifts from the drug companies.

Right from expensive tests, high-priced branded medicines, charges of beds and rooms to consultation fees of ‘specialists’, the cost of treatment at these so-called charitable hospitals burns a deep hole in the pockets of poor patients.

In some of these hospitals the professional qualifications of physicians and other medical personnel are ignored with lesser qualified doctors working as ‘specialists’. Some hospitals have even employed homeopathic and ‘ayurvedic’ practitioners in posts for MBBS doctors, a practice that has been overlooked by the government health officials.

So much so that some hospitals incorporated under the postpartum unit of department of health and family welfare are charging people for the vaccines that is provided by the government under the family welfare programme.

Joginder Pal of Jawahar Nagar camp having been admitted to a charitable hospital last week with severe stomach infection was diagnosed with gastroenteritis. In less than a week, the person’s family ended up spending Rs 35,000 in the hospital.

“I was thrice sent to undergo scans and the scan centre charged me Rs 400, Rs 600 and Rs 700 for the same. I had to borrow money from my brother-in-law as everyday the doctor concerned was prescribing me medicines worth Rs 2,000. However, my problem remains the same even after the weeklong treatment. The doctor said I’ll have to take five injections for five days but I can’t afford the treatment further as each injection costs Rs 6,000. I’ve now got my discharge slip from the hospital and have left myself at the mercy of fate,” said the distressed patient.

Unable to bear the expenses incurred on treatment, especially operations including cardiac, neurological, cancer, tumour and ENT surgeries as well as even amputations after accidents, some patients have to mortgage their assets or borrow money at high interest rates.

Seema, a domestic help in Model Town, borrowed Rs 40,000 at 10 percent interest to get her mother operated upon for a stomach tumour three years ago. However, despite the combined efforts by the entire family they have not been able to repay the interest and the principal amount stands where it was.

“We went to the city’s best charitable hospitals for my mother’s treatment but nobody there told us her tumour is at a terminal stage. When we had exhausted all our funds doctors at PGI, Chandigarh gave the right opinion and told us not to spend another penny for the treatment. The charitable hospitals are responsible for the debt in which my family is now entrapped”, laments Seema.

No free treatment

It is mandatory for every charitable hospital to provide free treatment to 10 percent indoor patients and 20 percent of the total outdoor patients coming to the hospital. However, none of the charitable hospitals in the city is abiding by the regulations. Also, despite having given a written consent to the government, these hospitals have failed to create a ‘free patients ward’ with all the facilities equivalent to that of a paid or private ward.

Checks needed

State health officials have failed to question charitable hospitals on the most significant aspects of their services. These include:

Immunization programmes
Community screening programmes
Amount spent on medical research programmes
Board of directors from diverse fields
Revenues (a leading charitable hospital has an annual income of Rs 120 crore)

‘Govt losing out on revenues’

Dr GS Grewal, chairman of the Political Affairs Committee of the Indian Medical Association’s Punjab chapter and member of the PMC, said the government is losing out on a large chunk of revenue from these charitable hospitals.

“Tax exemptions and other rebates are given to these institutions on account of their services supposedly rendered to the poor. In reality, the latter fail to get actual benefits. The government will have to come up with regulations to ensure these charitable hospitals provide inexpensive healthcare services to the poor”, he said.

‘Commissions’ for diagnostic tests

In charitable hospitals that are not equipped to conduct investigations, administration officials have given doctors a free hand to make money “indirectly” by taking a ‘commission’ from diagnostic laboratories and specialized centres. This makes treatment unaffordable for the poor. Doctors are being offered Rs 1,200, Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,500 for CT scans of head, chest and abdomen against the prescribed fee charged from the patients at the rate of Rs 1,800, Rs 2,500 and Rs 4,000, respectively. The incentives to referring doctors for a mammography varies between Rs 1,500-Rs 2000 against the actual amount of Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,500. Similarly, the “incentive” for an MRI given to the doctors is Rs 3,000 while the patient has to pay Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000.


Girl ‘sold’ thrice as sex slave rescued
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
She has no idea how many times she was raped. She does not even know her mother's name. At the tender age of 19, when girls her age think about their future careers, she was forced to quench the lust of middle-aged men.

The hapless teenager was eventually rescued by a good Samaritan, Alam Singh, when she was in the process of being “sold” to a man for the fourth time. He took her to the house of a social worker in the city’s Indra Colony.

"My father, Vinod, an autorickshaw driver living in the Tajpur Road area, abandoned me soon after my mother died when I was barely seven years old. He remarried a woman named Kiran and left me under the custody of the latter’s sister, Chinder, who lives close to Gahlewala Chowk near Rahon Road," said the girl.

Narrating her tales of woes, she said: "I was ‘sold’ for the first time to a man who appeared to be in his late fifties named Manna when I was 14. Chhinder along with her friend Pammi struck the deal and ‘sold’ me for a pair of gold earrings. I stayed there for about a year, after which they again took me back. Two years later I was again ‘sold’ to a middle-aged man named Kallu who lived in Gahlewal village for Rs 10,000. I stayed there for about three months. The third time I was ‘sold’ to Tilka, who appeared to be in his early fifties and lived near the Jalandhar bypass, for Rs 20,000. All of these men raped me repeatedly, I don't know how many times, and even offered me to their friends”.

"At the age of 19 I barely weighed 40 kilos. This wasn’t because I was suffering from some disease. I was not given food if I refused to obey my masters”, the girl lamented.

She said she even tried to run away but every time she left home she was nabbed by her ‘master’ and thrashed badly. "They used to lock me up in a room and refused to give food. I’m illiterate and don’t know how to stand up for my rights. So I gave up the idea of escaping," she added.

Alam said yesterday he came to know about the girl being ‘sold’ to one his acquaintance, Mani Singh, a resident of Baldev Nagar, for Rs 20,000. He said he told Harmesh, a social worker, and another woman ‘activist’ about the incident. The trio then went to Mani’s place and rescued the girl, informing the police about the incident.

"I have requested the authorities to conduct a medical test on the victim so that the culprits could be brought to book”, said Harmesh.

Meanwhile, Jodhewal SHO Mandeep Singh said the police came to know about the matter earlier and the girl was asked to come to the police station to file a complaint. “However, despite being summoned repeatedly she didn’t turn up at the police station to lodge her complaint”, he stated.

On the other hand residents of the Gahlewala chowk area claimed the girl’s allegations were false and her story concocted with an aim to “grab a piece of land”.



Firemen put their lives at risk to save others
But get peanuts in return; many not promoted for years
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
They are on duty round-the-clock and are constantly putting their lives at risk to save others. During the mission, they sustain severe injuries and even burn marks at times, but they are not allowed to be casual while on duty.

They are the firemen in the local fire department, who, save others’ lives but are paid meagre salaries in return. Besides, a majority of them join the job as firemen and end up retiring in the same post only.

The incidents of fire increase during summers so do the tough job of the firemen. In the local fire department, there are at least 47 firemen who are getting salaries to the tune of Rs 20,000 a month. And of these, 22 have already crossed 50 years of their life.

“But I still feel dissatisfied. Almost three decades ago, I had joined the job as a fireman on a salary of Rs 550 a month. Even after serving 30 years in the department, I am able to get just Rs 19,000 a month. The salary is not sufficient for the upbringing of my four children. What is more painful is that I have not been given any promotion. I will retire as fireman only,” said a fireman, who will be retiring in 2012.

During a recent fire incident at Books Market, a fireman had fractured his leg while in numerous other incidents, they sustain severe burn injuries. Another fireman in the department said they felt great when the Municipal Corporation decided to issue them appreciation letters recently. “I know such letters are a piece of paper serving no monetary purpose, but we get encouragement. Otherwise, till date people have always condemned us for reaching late at the spot. The state government should understand our plight and at least promote us for doing jobs diligently,” said another fireman, adding that on the instructions of chief fire officer, the fire officer or the leading fireman, they (firemen) were ready to put their lives in danger. In 2009-10, more than 900 fire incidents have already taken place in the district.



Animating Sikh history his passion
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
He has entrusted upon himself the task of taking rich Sikh history to every household through his animation films. Sukhwinder Singh, a Mohali-based IT professional jumped into the world of movie making six years ago and has already produced four films.

For seeing himself achieve this mission, he spent millions taking personal loans, borrowing money from friends and even taking out money from his IT firm’s profit. He is now the proud director of four animation films on the Sikh history, including “Sahibzaade”, ‘Rise of Khalsa”, “Sundri” and “Bhai Taru Singh Ji”.

All his animation films have run packed houses whenever these were screened in different parts of the world, but except “Sahibzaade” all his ventures went into losses thanks to the flourishing of piracy business. Sukhwinder Singh is in city these days for the screening of “Bhai Taru Singh”, an animation movie on a great Sikh martyr. He was overwhelmed with the response when he screened the movie at Guru Nanak Dev Bhawan last evening.

‘‘People have liked our animations. And we are also improving with every new production. Though it is very difficult to attract people for a religious film these days, I hope we convey a subtle message and inculcate Sikhism values among Sikhs with our effort, ’’ he added.

Having spent $255,000 on the production of “Bhai Taru Singh”, Sukhwinder said he did not want any profit from the movie. ‘‘All I want is that the money spent is returned. So that I can invest it in the next movie. Our money returned from “Sahibzaade” but not from the other two. We are keeping our fingers crossed for “Bhai Taru Singh”, so that we are able to fund our next project,’’ he added.

Sukhwinder was just like an IT professional till five years ago. One day he decided to bring about inspiring stories of Sikhs for the new generation. When his mind was working on it, he saw his son watch an animated cartoon again and again. ‘‘There I was, I told myself, had to prepare an animation. Since northern region did not have animation experts at that time, I had to go down South to get a movie produced. But we did not look back after that, ’’ he recalled.

He is pained to see that youth has lost touch with history. ‘‘They do not know our religion teaches a lesson of universal brotherhood, compassion and values. We are aping the west and it hurts me when I sit with myself. My effort is to reconnect these youths so that the world realises why the Khalsa was created by the gurus,’’ he remarks.



70 pc of pancreatitis cases caused by alcoholism, say experts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
“Consumption of alcohol over a long period is the usual cause of pancreatitis, beside other causes such as blocked pancreatic duct due to gallstones or pseudocysts.” These observations were made by attending gastro super specialists at a CME on “Management of Pancreatitis”, organised by Ludhiana branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) here today.

Held under the guidance of Dr Narotam Dewan, president IMA, the CME was attended by a large number of eminent doctors from the city and surrounding areas.

The key note speech was delivered by Dr JD Wig, former professor and head, department of surgery at PGI, Chandigarh, which was followed by panel discussion. The Punjab Medical Council (PMC) provided credit hours to the participants of this academic event.

Dr LS Chawla, IMA patron and senior gastroenterologist, who presided over the programme, pointed out that that the incidence of the diseases of the pancreas were common concern for the physicians as well as surgeons.

“The pancreas is a small organ, deeply seated in the posterior part of the abdomen. The pancreatic juice has an important function in the digestion and absorption of the food. The most important of the hormones secreted by pancreas is insulin, which helps to keep the blood sugar levels.”

In his keynote address, Dr Wig discussed in detail the symptoms, diagnosis, management and advanced surgical procedures for treatment of the pancreatitis. He said, “The disease of the pancreas, called pancreatitis, may range from a mild to a life-threatening condition. Patients with signs of severe disease should consult a gastroenterologist without delay for timely management and treatment. Establishing a rapid diagnosis through laboratory testing and radiological studies is important.”

He further stated that in addition to various other causes, pancreatitis was usually caused by gallstones or by drinking too much alcohol.

Gallstones causing pancreatitis usually required surgical removal. The treatment depended on the severity of the attack. If pancreatic pseudocysts were found and considered large enough to interfere with the healing of pancreas, doctors might drain or surgically remove them.

Dr Hardeep Singh, secretary, IMA, maintained that among some 70 per cent of adult patients, chronic pancreatitis appeared to be caused by alcoholism. Damage from alcohol abuse may not appear for many years and then a person may have a sudden attack of pancreatitis.

Dr Gurinder Singh Grewal, member, PMC, attended the CME as an observer. Dr Arindum Ghosh, gastro super specialist from SPS Apollo Hospital moderated the panel discussion and question-answer session after the speech. Panellists of the discussion were Dr Nirmaljeet Singh Malhi and Dr Dinesh Gupta from Deepak Hospital and Dr Satpal Singh Virk from Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.



Jarkhar stadium gets Rs 4-crore grant
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
Ludhiana MP and national spokesperson of the All-India Congress Committee Manish Tewari has facilitated Rs 4-crore grant from the union ministry of sports and youth affairs for laying astro-turf in the hockey stadium being constructed by Mata Sahib Kaur Hockey Academy at Jarkhar village in this district.

Claiming this at a public meeting at Mukandpur village near here today, Tewari said a recommendation to this effect by a team of the Sports Authority of India officials has already been submitted to the ministry. The minister concerned, Dr Manohar Singh Gill, has approved the grant so as to make the under-construction hockey ground into a multipurpose sports stadium, he added.

“The grant will be disbursed very soon and work for laying astro turf in the stadium will commence in near future,” the MP said.

In a scathing attack on the SAD-BJP government in Punjab, Tewari said the ruling alliance had no agenda of development. “All top government functionaries are indulging in defaming the Congress, misleading the public, misappropriating central government grants, letting loose repression against the public and filling up their personal coffers,” said the MP.

He claimed that the central government had launched various welfare schemes for development of villages. All centrally-funded schemes like the NREGA, Indira Gandhi Awaas Yojna, Prime Minister Sarak Yojna, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid-day Meal Scheme, National Rural Health Mission, Rural Drinking Water Supply Scheme, National Canal Irrigation Scheme, National Horticulture Mission and Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Bijlikaran Yojna were aimed at development of villages and providing the rural population better infrastructure facilities and basic amenities, he added.

The MP presented a cheque for Rs 2 lakh to the village panchayat from his discretionary fund for construction of a dharamshala at Mukandpur.

Tewari was accompanied by former minister Malkiat Singh Dakha, Milk Plant director Paramjit Singh Jawaddi, Manjit Singh Bharowal and PPCC secretary Pawan Diwan at this occasion.



Abolition of contract labour
Trade union welcomes the move
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
Terming it as big win for the trade unions, the All-India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has hailed the abolition of contract labour system in 60 depots of the Food Corporation of India across the country, including 31 in Punjab.

AT a meeting of the FCI Workers Palledar Union held here today under the presidentship of Lachman Singh Chanarthal, AITUC secretary DL Sachdeva congratulated the contract workers for fighting a long-drawn battle which turned out to be successful.

Addressing the meeting Sachdeva said by virtue of the notification issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment on April 23 workers of designated 60 depots of the FCI were no longer bonded labour, but had become permanent employees. He urged the FCI authorities to issue joining reports to the labour deployed at these depots forthwith as also lay down their working conditions as recommended by the Central Advisory Contract Labour Board.

Amar Singh Bhattian and Chanarthal, activists of the FCI Workers Palledar Union, asked the state government to follow suit and put an end to contract labour system in its food agencies and all workers engaged in loading, unloading, stacking, destacking, restacking, standardisation, weighment, sweeping and cleaning in the godowns and depots, be made permanent employees of the respective agencies.

“Till such that the contract system is not abolished in the state food agencies, a three member committee is formed to safeguard the rights of the contract labour. The government ought to ensure contribution of provident fund to the workers by the state agencies, abolish 12.5 per cent VAT imposed in grain markets, basic labour rate be raised to Rs 3.50 and raise ceiling of loading at rail heads and food grain special trains from 9 to 16 hours besides making arrangements for drinking water, lighting and first aid on priority basis,” the trade union leaders added.



Gur Mandi hub of duplicate cosmetics
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
With no check on quality control of cosmetics, the city markets are being flooded with spurious and expired products, which are causing severe skin reactions and allergies among the buyers. This can be gauged from the number of people queuing up in various city hospitals.

Retailers and wholesalers operating from “Gur Mandi”, the hub of low priced cosmetics, are blatantly violating the Drugs and Cosmetics Control Act by selling spurious, duplicate and substandard lipsticks, face creams, eye shadows, compact powders, kajals, deodorants and shampoos.

Majority of such shopkeepers get these products from specific markets in New Delhi, which are known for selling “duplicate” products in original refills.

Dr Alka Dogra, professor and head, department of dermatology, DMCH, said she gets a large number of patients with skin problems emerging after use of spurious and duplicate cosmetics. “Among all lipstick contracted dermatitis caused by spurious, substandard or expired ones is the worst as it takes week for the lips to heal,” the doctor added.

“The patients develop redness on lips which leads to itching and blackening. In order to soften dried lips the patients take to excessive licking, which creates fissures, the patients are in acute pain and are unable to talk. It is only after constant application of softening agents, steroid creams and anti-allergic medicines that we are able to control the damage,” she added.

Similarly, the spurious face creams cause acne and eruptions in the form of pimple that have black or white heads. Duplicate and expired eyeliners, eye shadows, kajals result in upper eyelid dermatitis while shampoos become the reason for hair fall and bad allergy.

Sharing her experience, Bhumika, a homemaker, stated that she had bought a deodorant of a reputed company from a shop near the Kailash Chowk, which was expired. “I used it without checking the expiry date and was in tears as it burnt my skin near the neck and I had to immediately rush to the dermatologist. Even after one year I have black scars on my skin,” she rued.



‘Pechcha Bhangre Da’ finale a hit with crowds
Pammi Bai, Harbhajan Mann, Jazzy B enthral audience
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
A bevy of stars descended on the city last evening to be a part of the grand finale of a bhangra dance competition ‘Pechcha Bhangre Da’, a fun-filled, power-packed Punjabi cultural bonanza.

The competition turned out to be a massive hit with city residents, who sang and danced along with their favourite Punjabi singers for over five hours and enjoyed every bit of it.

Punjabi folk singer Pammi Bai and youth icons Harbhajan Mann and Jazzy B bewitched one and all with their powerful performances as did the couplets of Amrinder Gill.

The evening started with a marvellous performance on hit Bollywood number “Tu paisa paisa karti hai” by the evening’s anchor VJ Gaurav, followed by his co-anchor Punjabi comedian Rana Ranbir’s much-awaited entry on stage.

The duo conducted the stage with great ease and near perfection and had the audiences in splits with their perfectly-timed one-liners and impromptu gags. Chief guests of the day IG (Jalandhar range) Sanjeev Kalra and his wife were accorded a rousing welcome.

Six well-known Punjabi faces then took to the dais one by one as a panel of judges for the event, which comprised Sukhvinder Sukhi, best-selling folk artiste of Punjab for four consecutive years, Jasvinder Singh Kooner, dhol champion, Dolly Malkiat, prominent personality on Punjabi folk music scene who has dedicated more than half of her life for promoting giddha and bhangra across the globe, Balkaran Brar and Ajay Sharma, who dedicated their lives to bhangra, training students from over a decade.

Dressed in deep yellow and dark brown traditional Punjabi attire, grandmaster judge of the event Pammi Bai made a grand entry on stage with hit numbers like “Jee nai jaan nu karda”, “Kudi Punjaban” and “Giddha sari raat chalna”.

Later the crowd witnessed the actual ceremony for which the glittering function was organised -- performances by the contestants of the competition. One by one, the teams took to stage, each one outdoing the other in performance and presentation, impressing the judges and the audiences alike with their co-ordination, synchronisation and dancing talents.

The much awaited performances came next with popular Punjabi actor-singer Harbhajan Mann enthralling with hits, including “Main teri maa di boli haan”, “Vasda rahe babul da vehra” and “Jag jiundian de mele”. The audience could not resist shaking a leg as the singer belted out hits after hits.

The audience was in for a pleasant surprise when the entire star cast of the forthcoming Punjabi movie “Ik Kudi Punjab Di” walked on to the stage to share some light moments. Actors Gurpreet Ghuggi, Guggu Gill, Darshan Aulakh, Aman Dhaliwal, Jaspinder Cheema, actor-singer Amrinder Gill and director Manmohan Singh talked about their movie as well as encouraged the contestants of the competition.

Youth icon Jazzy B came in next in a pair of blue jeans and a black and red tee. His trademark gold “khanda” and spiked red hair completed his look of a rock star.

One after the other the star singer doled out hit numbers like “Jatt maujan karda hai”, “Aaya main gaddi mor ke”, “Neend vi gayi mera chain vi gaya” and “Rambo” among others. The electrifying performance by Jazzy B had even the elder people in the crowd on their feet wanting for more.

A laser show, wherein a dancer moved smoothly to the gyrating music and bright-hued dancing laser lights amid a dark background, was the show’s highlight.

Soon after the performances by the remaining contesting teams, the results were announced by master of ceremonies Pammi Bai. While the Nachda Punjab Cultural Society, Hoshiarpur, and Mohindra College, Patiala, bagged the best bhangra and giddha team awards, respectively, Shiv Chand Public School, Nawanshahar, walked away with the winner’s trophy in the under-16 category.

The winning team received a cash prize of Rs 1,00,000 and an additional cash reward of Rs 10,000 announced by Punjabi actor-singer Amrinder Gill. Besides, the winners will have the opportunity to feature in the upcoming movie by renowned Bollywood and Punjabi film producer-director Manmohan Singh of ‘Jee Aayan Nu’ fame.


Singer Pammi left an indelible mark on the minds of many with his rude behaviour after his mike stopped functioning in the middle of his performance. The singer flung the mike in anger at a backstage staff member, which hit his face. Later, he jostled two little kids near the judge’s thrown as the duo sought his autographs

l Municipal councillors Simarjit Singh Bains and Jagbir Singh Sokhi’s entry with an army of supporters led to major chaos at the venue as the latter pushed and shoved members of the audience seated in front rows to make space. The chaos subsided as soon as the councillors and supporters left the venue

l Anchors Rana Ranbir and Gaurav appreciated the efforts of the Punjab Police wholeheartedly and asked the audience to give the men in khaki a huge round of applause for their tireless efforts towards maintaining peace. This lightened up many a cops face

l Each one of the singers requested the audience to launch a crusade to save the native language Punjabi, which is slowly being replaced by Hindi and English, invoking consenting nods from the audience.



Empowerment of working women emphasised
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
"Women must come forward to know their rights and to get these implemented in various spheres of life like education, health, law, banking, agriculture, domestic or any other sector. They must involve themselves more and more in socio-political activities and assert to be included in the process of decision-making."

This was the consensus at the workshop on "Women’s initiative in social change", organised by the Working Women Forum (WWF) and AITUC here today.

The workshop was attended by over 50 delegates from different walks of life.

Speaking on the occasion, Amarjeet Kaur, national convener of WWF and national secretary AITUC, said women had a glorious history in building society. "They played significant role in freedom movement of the country and thereafter in nation-building with all their might. But their participation in the decision-making bodies had been very little. That is why it is important that we come forward and effectively make use of changing laws and also to have more laws to raise the status of women, especially pertaining to the laws at workplace."

Krishna Jha, while elaborating on the status of women during different phases of evolution of human civilisation, said patriarchy had been institutionalised through various stages of development after ancient periods of human history when men and women had no difference. But later, in the feudal ages women were subjugated to men. "Capitalism has tried to use them as a commodity. Our struggle is not for domination on male gender, but a struggle for equality, social and economic justice. Therefore, we must strive for a socio-economic order based on justice and equality."

BC Chhibber, an advocate, dwelt on the enactment of several laws after independence in the wake of struggle of womens' movement in the country, which unfortunately, were never properly implemented.

Dr Kanwaljeet Kaur remarked that women were the most vulnerable in the event of natural or man-made calamity.

Among other speakers at the workshop, Kusum Lata and Dr Rajinder Pal Aulakh focused on the issues related to women in agriculture and adverse impact of provisions of the World Trade Organisaiton on their rights to livelihood.

Gurcharan Kochher, president, Punjab Istri Sabha, initiated a discussion on expectations from the women’s reservation bill while also sounding a note of caution that every effort was being made to scuttle it even after it had been passed in the Rajya Sabha.

Jit Kumari, general secretary, Punjab Istri Sabha, Barjinder Kaur, organising secretary, Dr Narjit Kaur, convener, WWF Ludhiana, Avtar Kaur, advocate, Veena Kumari, Babita Ahuja, Meenakshi Sharma, Anita, Santosh Arora, Neetu Ohri, Jyoti, Garima Sharma, Usha Thapar, Dr Charanjit Kaur and Vanita Parashar also particpated in the discussion.



Encroachments removed from interior markets
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
The tehbazari wing of the municipal corporation once again went ahead in interior part of city today to remove counters, ‘rehris’, footpath shops, two-wheelers etc of the shopkeepers who have encroached upon the MC land. It is the ninth such effort by the authorities in the past one month to remove encroachments.

MC workers remove two-wheelers from Bhadaur House; and (right) counters being removed outside the Akalgarh market in Ludhiana on Sunday. Photos: Inderjeet Verma

About 20 odd workers, including police personnel, under the guidance of superintendent tehbazari Navin Malhotra, cracked the whip on encroachers.

Talking to The Tribune, Malhotra said there was about 90 per cent improvement in Akalgarh market, Mata Rani Chowk, Chaura Bazar etc. “Realising that they (encroachers) cannot get away with encroachments, shopkeepers themselves have started extending help in our drive. If they see our van and workers, they start removing their ‘farries’/two-wheelers from the roads, which needs to be appreciated. But they should be made to understand that they cannot resurface again,” said

Sham Sharma, a ‘rehri’ owner, said: “We appreciate the drive as ‘rehris’ on roads create a lot of traffic nuisance. But they should provide us with a suitable alternative.”



Agents booked for duping woman of Rs 3.5 lakh
Had promised to send son abroad
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 9
The Jagraon police yesterday booked three persons, accused of cheating a youth by promising to send him abroad. Sukhwinder Kaur of Ramgarh Bhullar village near here had complained to the SSP Jagraon on June 18, 2008, that the accused Robin Mashih and his father Abdul Gaffur of Makra village near Jalandhar had lured her to send her son Harvinder Singh abroad.

She had stated that earlier the duo charged her Rs 50,000 for sending Harvinder Singh to Cyprus.

Later, they persuaded her to shell out an additional 1.5 lakh for sending her son to Israel. Finally, the duo took additional 1.5 lakh to send her son to England. All transactions were done through Markas Mashih, whose father Darshan Singh Bhatti was a PSEB employee. She believed his word that the father-son duo travel agents were honest and she would not be on the losing side in dealing with them.

After receiving 3.5 lakh, the trio not only refused to send her son abroad but also severed all communications with her.

The SSP Jagraon finally entrusted the economic offences wing to conduct an inquiry into the matter, which confirmed the allegations levelled by Sukhwinder Kaur. Later, an FIR against all three accused was lodged. The Jagraon sadar police station booked the three accused under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.



Farmers protest against GAIL
Our Correspondent

Raikot, May 9
A large number of farmers from affected villages of various districts in Punjab yesterday protested against the GAIL’s decision to lay a gas pipeline in their fields.

GAIL is laying 300 km of pipeline through the fields in Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Nawanshahar, Ropar, Bathinda, Sangrur, Barnala and Hoshiarpur districts. It has directed farmers not to plant trees or let it grow, dug ponds, install tube wells and besides carrying out any sort of the construction work on the 100-foot wide stretch of their farmland that has been earmarked for laying the gas pipeline.

Moreover, the farmers will not be able to fetch reasonable price for their land as no industry could be raised on the land from where the gas pipeline will be passing.

On Friday, farmer unions of various districts met at Tahliana Sahib gurdwara and took out a protest march and even disrupted the traffic on the Ludhiana-Bathinda highway at the Hari Singh Nalua Chowk. The union leaders said they were not against the development of the state. Instead of destroying more than 2,500 acres, the authorities should lay the gas pipeline along roads and canals, they added.

The farmers unanimously resolved that they would oppose the discriminatory ruling of GAIL. They also threatened to intensify their agitation if the government failed to revoke its decision. The leasers yesterday sought the intervention of the Punjab government on the issue.



Programme for young executives
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
The public image of any corporate house is dependant upon communication skills of its frontline staff. Executives, which are foreseen as future leaders, also need effective grooming to grow into managers.

Recognising this need, TCY, Ludhiana centre, has launched a special programme called “BetterThink Pro” for young executives. Using a combination of language training, testing, real-life thematic role plays and communication games, the programme builds up the user’s confidence in handling similar situations in real life.

The companies can buy consolidated hours of training based on their needs and allocate them at their own discretion. Once the corporate house shortlists its candidates for the course, a pre-assessment test is done on all candidates and customised packages are offered based upon the need analysis.

The trainees also undergo a “post-assessment test” upon completion of the programme. The objective is to provide a measurable benchmark of improvement to both trainees and employers. Since there are no fixed timings, the training sessions can be scheduled as per the employer’s convenience.



Expectant woman not allowed to take exam
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
A 30-year-old woman who had come to appear for an insurance exam in the city today alleged the invigilator at the examination hall forced her to leave and levelled false charges of cheating against her. The exam was conducted by the Insurance Institute of India at Harkrishan Public School on Dugri Road.

Puja Bedi, mother of a two-year-old girl, who came to the exam centre along with her husband Mohit Bhatia, an insurance agent in Khanna, said as she was pregnant she had to use the urinal frequently, to which the invigilator objected.

"The third time when I requested the invigilator that I needed to go to the washroom, he bluntly refused me. In the meantime my husband entered the examination hall as my daughter was crying profusely. This miffed the invigilator and he snatched my paper and asked me to leave the hall. When I asked him the reason he took out a book lying outside the hall and told me I was cheating," said Bedi. She further alleged the invigilator even abused her.

Distraught at the treatment she was not able to take the second examination scheduled in the evening.

Despite repeated attempts to contact him, the invigilator was not available for his comments on Bedi’s allegations.



A proud Punjabi
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
"I feel proud to be a Punjabi”, says singer Jazzy B. He adds, “Punjabi is our native language, but a lot needs to be done to promote it.” Notably, people living abroad are more close to the language while those living near their roots are deviating from their culture. The singer was in the city to perform at Sutlej Club.

He says, “It is not the fault of children, but parents are to be blamed for this. Kids follow the path shown to them by their elders. Today, everybody wants to speak in English and in all this show off we are going away from our own identity.”

The scene is different in countries like Canada and the USA. Youth there love to speak in Punjabi. They also learn shabad kirtan and involve themselves in charity programmes. In Canada, students have the option to choose Punjabi as their second language.

“Even the government there understands the importance of the native language. Now, the people living here need to wake up and launch a campaign to promote Punjabi,” he adds.

Punjabi youth who live far away from their own country still do little things for the promotion of the language.

Jazzy B says he had learnt the Punjabi alphabets in his childhood and is now teaching the same to his kids. In addition to this he loves coming to Ludhiana again and again. “People of this city know how to enjoy and I enjoy giving performances for the people of the city who know how to relish music,” he signs off.



Patient operated upon for abnormality in kidney
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
A rare case of congenital abnormality of the kidney was recently diagnosed and then operated upon through laparoscopic technique by Dr Baldev Singh Aulakh, professor and head, urology and transplant Surgery unit, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), in Ludhiana.

The 23-year-old patient developed continuous leaking of watery fluid during pregnancy, which persisted even after she delivered the baby.

On examination, she was found to have a cystic mass in vagina leaking urine and double kidney (called duplex system) on the right side. The ureter (a tube carrying urine from the kidney to bladder) of the upper half of double kidney that led to continous urinary incontinence. Usually, in such a case, the patient’s urine leakage is detected at the age of three to six years but in this patient the symptoms surfaced during the pregnancy.

The patient was taken up for ‘laparoscopic uretero- ureterostomy’ by which this ectopic ureter was joined to the normal ureter so that it could now drain via the normal route into the urinary bladder.



Trains soft target for agitators
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
With cases of unrest on the rise, trains have become soft target for agitators even though their act causes inconvenience to passengers. In yesterday’s incident also, train passengers were at the receiving end.

Though the train was stopped only for 15 to 20 minutes, there was panic among passengers.

Children, women and elderly had a tough time when the train was stopped in the hot weather. “We were scared that they might not start pelting the train with stones,” said Raj Kumar, a passenger.

A few passengers decided to cancel their journey midway. ‘‘I had thought of going to Ferozepur, but I decided not to travel yesterday. It was a bad start. The train was stopped as soon as it came out of the city,” said Surinder Singh, another passenger.

While no case was registered against the agitators for disrupting the train service, Commissioner of Police Ishwar Singh said they could not book them. Only the railway police can book them.



Kulbhushan is president of Bharat Vikas Parishad
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 9
The Jagraon branch of Bharat Vikas Parishad was reconstituted yesterday and new office-bearers took the charge for 2010-11 session after the swearing-in ceremony.

The election was held unanimously under the presidentship of Dr Jaswant Rai Kaushal, district president of the organisation. Kulbhushan Aggarwal was elected as the president, Sukhdev Garg as secretary and Deepak Verma as cashier. The remaining team will be announced later on.

The proceeding president of the association Raman Jain, secretary Dr Manish Jain and cashier Parmod Singla besides giving details of the social works done in the proceeding year, congratulated the new team and extended their cooperation to them. Jagraon council president Baldev Krishan Dheer, BJP leader Raj Verma, Dr Rajinder Sharma and others were present on the occasion.



312 examined at medical camp
Our Correspondent

Raikot, May 9
The Masihi Prarthana Sabha of Akalgarh village, near Halwara, organised the 15th free medical camp, in collaboration with the Helping Hands Charitable Welfare Society of the village, here today. The camp was inaugurated by Tanvir Singh Dhaliwal, councillor of ward No. 59. The specialists from DMCH, Ludhiana, examined the patients suffering from various kinds of ailments. The experts also provided them with the information of precautions from the common diseases and the early symptoms of the prevailing seasonal diseases.

Sadik Masih and John Bhatti from the charitable society said 312 patients were examined at the camp and all patients were provided free medical tests.



Paintings, sculptures mesmerise art lovers
Tribune News Service

Sculptor Harminder Boparai at an art workshop in Ludhiana. A Tribune photograph

Ludhiana, May 9
A two-day art workshop and exhibition-cum-sale showcasing works of artists from the city as well as from West Bengal and Karnataka concluded here today.

The first-of-its-kind workshop was organised by artist Ranjeet Grewal with a view to promoting art in the city, better known for its industry.

Paintings of well-known artists and sculptures mesmerised many art lovers of the city, as sculptors Harminder Boparai and Surmeet and painter Sumeeet portrayed varied emotions through their creations. Fibre-glass and wooden sculptures, paintings in oil, acrylic and water colours also attracted many art lovers.

Talking about the workshop, sculptor Harminder said, "This is for the first time that such an event has been organised to promote young artists' works. This has given all of us a unique platform, besides creating awareness among the art lovers about the immense latent talent of city's artists."



Indians on death row
Prayer meeting organised
Our Correspondent

Mullanpur Dakha, May 9
On one hand, legal experts and social workers are working round-the -clock to get the 17 youths facing death sentence released from the UAE and on the other all affected families, their supporters and god men are praying for their early release.

Today, thousands of devotees prayed for the early release of the Indians at the Sant Ashram of Sant Baba Rampal at Jhande village.

Sant Baba Rampal, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, Avatar Singh Mullanpur, Sukhdev, Pritam Singh and Kuldeep Singh attended the prayer meeting besides others.

Ramoowalia said after their intervention the youths had now been shifted to air-conditioned prison from the dingy cellars. They could, now, play for three days in a week in open and talk for 15 minutes to their families in a week.



Problems of tent dealers discussed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 9
The Ludhiana Tent Dealers’ Welfare Association organised a meeting at Model Town for discussing problems being faced by them in promoting their trade. The meeting was held under the presidentship of Raj Aggarwal.

The members also voted in favour of continuing him for the next two years on the same post. Tent dealers Ashok Sharma, Gurmeet Singh, Premjit Singh, Omparkash Bhatia, Kirpal Singh Maan and Harpreet Singh were among those who took part in the deliberations and shared their views on the problems being faced by them and gave suggestion for solving the same.



175 cases settled at police-public meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
As many as 175 cases were disposed of either by taking quick legal action or by effecting compromises at a special police-public meeting, conducted near the Sherpur chowk here yesterday.

Twelve counters were installed at the venue and complainants were asked to report their cases to the respective officials. The meeting was conducted following the Commissioner's orders and various pending cases were settled on the spot.



2 of bikers’ gang held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
Two members of a biker gang, who were allegedly behind the killing of two city residents, besides several other cases of snatching have been arrested. The accused have been identified as Gagandeep Singh, alias Jogga and Ravi Kumar, alias Vicky, both residents of Shimlapuri and Dehlon, respectively. They were intercepted at a police check post near Lohara.

According to the police, the accused tried to flee. The cops chased and managed to arrest them. During preliminary investigation, the accused confessed to having committed the crime.

According to the police, the accused were behind the killing of Ravinder Panday near 33-foot road on April 23. They also confessed to the killing of a security guard, Subash, who was murdered near the Gill Road on May 3.

Besides killings, they were behind several cases of snatching and robbery. The police has seized mobile phones and a motorcycle used in the crime from their possession.

The duo was arrested in February this year, too, for in the theft and snatching cases. The accused were bailed out just 10 days ago but they again indulged in criminal activity.



Four booked for rape
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 9
A 15-year-old, who was residing in the shanties near the railway godown, was gang raped on Thursday evening while she was on her way to a shop at Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar to fetch milk for her family. The local police has booked the three youths and a woman in this regard.

The SI said Jang Bahadur and Malik, who were riding a scooter besides Pala and his wife Maya, stopped the girl. Maya asked her to accompany them. When she refused, they forcibly made her to sit on the motorcycle and took her towards the dead animal disposal ground toward Nanaksar.

They dragged her to a vacant plot and gang raped her. Pala and his wife Maya waited for them outside. They dropped her at the level crossing at the Sherpur Road in the morning and even threatened her of dire consequences if she uttered a single word to anybody. She narrated the entire incident to her parents.

A complaint was registered at the city police station in this regard. All four were booked under Sections 366A, 376 and 506 of the IPC after getting her medical examination conducted from the local civil hospital. The SHO said they were waiting for the medical report to arrive. Not a single person as been arrested in this connection so far.



House of JE attacked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 9
Angered neighbours allegedly pelted empty liquor bottles, stones and caused damaged to the house of a junior engineer (JE) of the Punjab State Power Corporation, located in Dhandar, last night.

The incident took place at 10 pm when JE Pyara Singh, who is posted at Model Town, was having dinner with his family.

Giving details about the incident, Pyara Singh said he was attacked twice by his neighbours on previous occasions. He had an argument with his neighbours last evening after they parked their vehicle in front of his house.

“As construction was in progress at my house I requested them to park their vehicle at some other place, but the neighbours categorically refused to comply with my request, which resulted in an argument,” said Pyara.

Later in the evening, the neighbours, along with 20 of their accomplices, attacked the house and pelted stones and bottles at the house, alleged the JE.

Though no one was injured, Pyara said the attackers damaged his vehicles and broke the windowpanes of the house. He reported the matter to the Sadar police and a case has been registered. The neighbours refused to comment on the incident.



Habit-forming drug seized, 1 held

Mullanpur Dakha, May 9
A youth has been by the Dakha police during a routine patrol and habit-forming drugs seized from his possession. The in charge of the Chowkiman police post, who was patrolling the area near Hans Kalan village arrested a youth identified as Munish Kumar Jadja of Mahavir Colony, Jagraon, and seized huge quantity of habit-forming drugs from his possession.

The accused tried to escape but was overpowered. On being searched, 4,800 tablets, 864 capsules and 24 bottles of cough syrups were recovered from him. He could not produce any document regarding possession of the scheduled drugs. A case has been registered. — OC



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