L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Day-long strike cripples transport, industry
Banking services hit; trains, power supply unaffected
Kuldip Bhatia

An ambulance carrying a critically ill patient caught in the jam in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
Tribune photo by Himanshu Mahajan

Ludhiana, September 7
Work in industrial units, banks and insurance firms as well as in Powercom, telecom and government departments came to a virtual halt in the wake of the nationwide strike call given by major trade unions to protest against the price rise and labour laws among other issues. Public transport services were severely hit though power supply remained largely unaffected.

Activists of the unions including the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Centre of Trade Unions (CTU) and National Trade Unions of India (NTUI), along with various federations of employees and workers held a demonstration at Bharat Nagar Chowk today. The ‘presidium’ at the rally comprised Swarn Singh (INTUC), OP Mehta (AITUC), Jatinder Pal Singh (CITU), Parkash Singh Hissowal (NTUI) and Paramjit Singh (CTU).

Highlighting the issues that “necessitated” the nationwide strike, speakers at the rally said the rise in prices of essential commodities had hit the common man hard to the extent that food intake had to be curtailed at the risk of malnutrition among the lower strata of society.

Expressing “anguish” at the prime minister's remarks on the Supreme Court’s directions for distribution of foodgrains rotting in godowns among the poor and the needy, the speakers said it was a “very serious” matter as nearly 77 percent of the country's population survived on less than Rs 20 per day. "In the prevailing situation the number of malnourished and undernourished people will keep swelling”, they added.

Protesting trade union activists caught in a sudden shower. Protesters squat at the Bharat Nagar Chowk on the Ferozepur Road during a nationwide strike in Ludhiana on Tuesday.
Protesting trade union activists caught in a sudden shower; and (right) protesters squat at the Bharat Nagar Chowk on the Ferozepur Road during a nationwide strike in Ludhiana on Tuesday. Tribune photos: Himanshu Mahajan

The trade union leaders demanded that rising prices of essential items should be firmly checked by taking stringent action against hoarders. They asserted the public distribution system must be strengthened for distribution of essential commodities to all at affordable prices.

"Further, disinvestment of public sector units and privatisation of government departments should be halted immediately. All workers recruited through outsourcing or hired on contractual basis and daily wages must be regularized. Hundreds of thousands of posts lying vacant should be filled immediately to lessen stress on employees and provide employment to the jobless” they said.

Other demands raised by the speakers at the rally included government payscales to ‘anganwadi’ and ASHA workers, implementation of labour laws, stoppage of attacks on trade union rights, misuse of section 144 and use of police against workers, implementation of the 1996 Act regarding construction workers, enhancement of minimum monthly wages for unskilled workers to Rs 10,000 and withdrawal of false police cases against workers.

Work in state-owned and private as well as foreign banks was crippled. Bank employees held a rally under the banner of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation in front of the Canara Bank head office in the city to focus on issues like spiralling prices of essential commodities, shrinking employment opportunities, large scale disinvestment in the public sector, blatant violation of labour laws and lack of adequate protection to unorganised workers.

Senior Punjab State Power Corp Ltd officials claimed that despite the near total strike by its clerical and technical staff, power supply in the city as well as surrounding towns and rural areas was maintained with the help of junior and executive engineers and subdivisional officers. The disposal of complaints was also made to some extent with skeleton staff and contractual workers, the officials added. Rail traffic remained largely unaffected.


Rally, blockades cause chaos on roads
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 7
Utter confusion prevailed in various areas of the city after vehicular traffic remained stuck for nearly four hours around Bharat Nagar Chowk, one of the busiest intersections on Ferozepur Road, after left parties and trade unions blockaded the roads in the course of their nationwide strike today.

As the police had erected barricades on all roads leading to the venue of the protest, thousands of vehicles were caught in huge traffic snarlups on the national highway as well as feeder roads like Mall Road, Fountain Chowk, Jagraon Bridge, Link Road and Pakhowal Road.

Most commuters, unaware of the protest right in the middle of the intersection, were caught unawares. Tempers ran high with heated exchanges between those stuck in the jams and cops posted on security and traffic duty.

Several strategic locations including the mini secretariat, general post office, bus station and train station (on the Civil Lines side) remained virtually out of bounds for vehicles during the period the protest was on and even after it had ended. It took quite some time for vehicular flow, stalled on all sides of the intersection, to get revert to normal.

The worst sufferers were those proceeding to the bus stand or railway station. Many of them could not make it in time to catch their buses or trains. Many others, on important assignments or official work, also missed their appointments. Some anxious vehicle owners, including a few women one of whom was on the verge of breaking down, were seen asking the cops when the protest would be over and normalcy restored on the streets.

Anger, frustration and helplessness was writ large on motorists and other commuters over the manner of protest (blocking roads and intersections), which many felt had become a routine. “Every other day some one holds a protest on busy streets or intersections, holds the people to ransom while the authorities keep their eyes and ears close to the pathetic plight of the victims,” rued JP Singh, a businessman, caught in a snarlup while going to pick up one of his relatives from the train station.

Dr R Chawla, who teaches at Christian Medical College, was going home in the afternoon to attend a medical emergency when he got stuck near Fountain Chowk for over 45 minutes. “Is this the way to lodge a protest in a civilised society? At least political parties, or trade unions for that matter, ought to realise that in their fight against the government it’s the common people bear the brunt,” he averred.



Jail warden commits suicide
Had been suspended after inmate’s escape
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Relatives of Kashmiri Lal protest in front of the Jodhewal police station in Ludhiana on Tuesday. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, September 7
A jail warden, who had been under suspension following the escape of an inmate from the PGI in Chandigarh, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at Kailash Nagar in Basti Jodhewal here today.

The death of jail warden Kashmiri Lal (45) triggered a protest in front of the Jodhewal police station as his relatives demanded the registration of a criminal case against jail superintendent SP Khanna and other senior officials for mentally torturing him.

The police also recovered a suicide note, in which Kashmiri Lal accused the jail superintendent of mental torture.

Kashmiri Lal, along with his wife Darshna and children Archna (21), Honey (18) and Mamta (16), had been staying at his in-laws’ house in Kailash Nagar for a few years.

Darshna said the incident came to light at 6 am, when she woke up to prepare tea and found him hanging from a ceiling fan in another room.

She raised the alarm, after which other family members woke up and informed the police about the incident.

According to the police, the victim might have ended his life around midnight, when the rest of the family was fast asleep.

Three jail officials, Kashmiri Lal, Rajiv Kumar and Avtar Singh, had been suspended after undertrial Joga Singh, facing charges of fraud, fled from the PGI in Chandigarh on August 31.

Joga was nabbed from Nurpur Bedi in Anandpur Sahib on September 4, but the trio was not reinstated. A departmental inquiry was later initiated against them.

Family members of the deceased refused to comment, but close relatives said Kashmiri Lal had been under depression as the incident had caused embarrassment to him.

He had reportedly suffered a jolt when his integrity was questioned and people levelled allegations that he was involved in Joga’s escape.

To prove his honesty, he had joined the search party constituted by the jail superintendent. After a four-day intensive search, they had nabbed Joga Singh.

Jail sources said Kashmiri Lal had hoped that he would be reinstated, but the departmental inquiry had shattered his confidence.

ACP Bhupinder Singh Sidhu said, “We are still investigating the matter. It will not be appropriate to comment right now.”

The police sent the suicide note to verify its authenticity. The body was taken to the Civil Hospital for post-mortem examination and the report was awaited.

Till the time of filing this report, neither was he cremated, nor was an FIR registered in this connection.



Uncertainty over PSEB exam
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Two days after the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) postponed the semester examinations for Classes X and XII scheduled for September 6 and September 7, confusion continued to haunt students and teachers today as they prepared for tomorrow’s examination.

“With no clear instructions from any quarter, we are apprehensive if tomorrow’s paper will be held as per schedule. Students are anxious and have been calling up for any information on tomorrow’s paper,” a member of the Association of PSEB Affiliated Schools of Punjab stated.

At least 5,000 private candidates in Ludhiana district alone have not received the roll numbers yet.

— Principal of a govt school

“The board had postponed the papers since a large number of candidates could not get roll numbers due to flooding in the border areas of Punjab. Even now, there are at least 5,000 private candidates in Ludhiana district alone who have not received the roll numbers. How will the PSEB hold the exam? It is sheer failure on its part,” the head of a government school said.

Dispatching roll numbers was the board’s duty. “Why has it asked students to collect the roll numbers in person from the board’s Mohali office? It is not feasible for students to do so,” he rued.

“It is easy for PSEB chairman Dalbir Singh Dhillon to blame the students for not being able to download roll numbers from the board’s website and for the consequent fiasco. But given the poor financial and social circumstances of most of the candidates, is it fair to expect this from them?” another teacher questioned.

Meanwhile, PSEB officials have said tomorrow’s paper would be held as per schedule.



School yet to get question papers
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The PSEB’s tall claims and hurried efforts to provide additional question papers to 400 examination centres across the state ahead of the Class X and XII semester examination tomorrow, seem to have fallen flat.

Shishu Model High School, Basti Jodhewal, is yet to receive question papers for 45 Class X students of Open School. These students have been assigned Shishu Model High School as the examination centre, but the school has not received question papers of any of the eight subjects so far.

NK Bangia, principal of the school, said: “I have been trying to call up the authorities since morning, but to no avail.” He said a number of requests to the PSEB’s controller of examinations had yielded nothing.

“I have made many calls to him, but he simply refuses to listen. He has told me to make arrangements for the question papers at the local level,” Bangia claimed.

He said despite requests to several local government and private schools, he had not been able to get the required number of question papers.

“The school heads that I have contacted have told me to wait till morning. If I don’t get papers from the PSEB, they have assured to provide us with the question papers. The future of so many students is at stake and I am helpless,” he said, adding that the board could not wash off its hands.

When contacted, the PSEB controller of examinations, Meelu, said: “These people (school head) are crazy. They have been calling us up since morning. I have told him to arrange for the question papers from local schools. What else can we do?” he asked. However, as soon as he got to know that the matter had been reported to the media, he changed his statement. “I will look into the matter personally and send the required number of question papers to the school early tomorrow morning,” he stated.



Arrested Pak ‘spy’ married to city girl
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The Pakistani national who was apprehended on Sunday on charges of spying is said to have married a girl from the city and was living with his in-laws in the Focal Point area. The police said before settling down here he travelled to Saharanpur, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata and Mumbai and reportedly taught in madrasahs there. He has no child from this marriage.

According to the police, Saheem Siddique, 35, alias Ahmed Mohammad, hailing from Faislabad in Pakistan, posed as an Urdu teacher and was teaching the language to children in a madrasah located near Shepur Chowk here. Sources said during questioning Siddique confessed he was given the task of sending military details to his masters in Pakistan. The cops had reportedly conducted searches at the homes of his acquaintances and confiscated a mobile phone. He was reportedly using the cellphone of one his relatives to make calls to Dubai.

The sources said Siddique was receiving funds from the UAE. Investigating agencies are currently trying to ascertain to whom and where he used to send the details.

Accent gave him up

Sources close to the police said it was Saheem Siddique’s accent that proved to be his undoing. “He wouldn’t have been caught had he kept on speaking Urdu”, they said. He reportedly landed in trouble when he began conversing in Punjabi in a dialect spoken in Pakistan. That raised suspicion among residents of the Focal Point area, who then informed the police.



High-Risk Zone
Most swine flu cases in city
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
With seven out of a total of 12 confirmed cases of swine flu from Punjab surfacing in Ludhiana, the city has once again come under the high-risk zone. Two men and a woman from Ludhiana are already undergoing treatment at the DMCH and the CMCH.

Despite having taken preventive measures at the civil hospitals and private hospitals having been roped in for the treatment of swine flu patients, the department of health and family welfare has ignored the aspect of “preventive vaccine”. Serum Institute of India Ltd, along with another pharmaceutical, have got a go-ahead from the Centre and has introduced the intra-nasal swine flu vaccine. The vaccine is available at private hospitals in Patiala, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Mohali and other cities.

However, there is no word about this vaccine in the public healthcare system.

Dr Deepak Bhatia, state nodal officer for the integrated disease surveillance programme, said it was a policy matter. “We have not received any directions from the Central government on the vaccine. We had just received a supply of Panacea (injectible preventive vaccine) for healthcare personnel, which has already been administered,” he said.

A senior physician said: “Preventive part in healthcare is more significant than the curative part, but over the years, doctors at large and the health department in particular has been emphasising on the latter.”

Treatment Cost

The cost of a swine flu test is around Rs 5,000 followed by additional expenses of Rs 1,500 on transportation, medicine and preventive medicine for contacts. This is extra burden on the state exchequer. On the other hand, a single dose of the intra-nasal preventive vaccine costs between Rs 200 and Rs 300.



Workers’ Strike
Students, employees at the receiving end
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, September 7
Employees working in various departments and students, especially of colleges, had a tough time as Punjab Roadways and PRTC buses remained off road following a nationwide strike by employees today. Most of them were caught unawares as they reached the bus station only to realise that buses were not plying.

While students with PRTC passes had to shell out money to pay bus fares to private operators, they had to face harassment on account of congestion on roads due to the strike.

“I usually reach college by 9.15 am as my first class starts at 9.30 am. As it was impossible for me to reach the college in time today, I had to miss my first lecture even as our September examinations are round the corner,” said a student of a local college.

“I was not aware of the bus strike today. I had to take test today but had to miss it as was next to impossible to reach the college in time. Seeing the chaos, I initially thought of returning home but then decided to go to the college so that my studies weren’t harmed. I had no idea that the private bus that I boarded after an hour’s wait would take another one and half hour to reach Doraha,” added another.

“And to top it all, we were not welcomed by private bus conductors, who preferred to pick up regular passengers. The return journey was not pleasant either. We had to wait another hour to board a private bus,” said the student.

A girl student residing in Sherpur said: “Apprehending chaos due to the strike, I took leave from the college. Most of my friends also decided not to go to the college. Those who attended the college had a harrowing time.”

Most employees working in various departments, too, had a tough time today.

A bank employee said they were supposed to be in their seats by 10 am but due to the strike they arrived late at their offices.

“Traffic jam on roads tested the patience of passengers and motorists,” she added.



He wants to tap rice bran’s medicinal value
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Passion drives a man even to the furthest end of the world. This seems to be true in the case of V Gowthaman, an automobile trader from Chennai, whose passion is to produce medicinal products from rice bran. This passion brought him to the Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) here. He was here to find a solution for increasing the shelf life of rice bran.

Gowthaman was suffering from a stomach ailment a few years back. “I used many medicines, but to no avail. The intake of rice bran produced the desired results. I was determined to take its benefits to other people. Further studies of rice bran made me realise that it was useful in case of diabetes, cardiac problems, weight reduction and ageing and was a boost to the overall immunity level of the body,” he said.

“The problem with rice bran is that its enzymatic activity starts immediately after milling and it remains fit for human consumption only for between three and four hours. This can only be deactivated through standardised heating process,” said Gowthaman.

He added that for his consumption, he put rice bran in microwave several times. “Even for my own requirement, it takes a lot of time. I need a solution to produce it on a commercial scale,” he remarked.

Coming from Chennai to Ludhiana, Gowthaman said he had searched the Internet and found that Ohmic heater could help him in large-scale production of rice bran.

“But unfortunately, no Ohmic heater is available for deactivating rice bran anywhere in the country. I have come to CIPHET to get standardised technology for me,” he added.

CIPHET director Dr RT Patil said they would provide all help to Gowthaman in the development of technology for production of rice bran. He praised Gowthaman for his passion and effort.



2 shops at AC Market sealed
Tribune News Service

An MC official seals a shop for violating building bylaws at AC Market in Ludhiana on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Ludhiana, September 7
Cracking a whip on violators of the building bylaws, the Ludhiana municipal corporation sealed two shops in Calibre Plaza, AC Market, here this afternoon. Another shop was given time till tomorrow, following which the premises would be sealed.

The LMC sealed shop Nos. 17-18 B and 12 C, while the owner of shop No. 60 was given time till tomorrow.

The shop owner was given the grace period after he pleaded that a religious discourse (path) was on in his shop which would conclude tomorrow.

The LMC team made the shopkeeper sign a document, stating that the shop would be sealed tomorrow after the path concluded.

The shop owners had violated the building bylaws by extending their premises into the adjoining residential complex.

The violators had purchased residential houses and then carried out the extension.

The drive was carried out under the aegis of town planner Tarlok Singh and assistant town planner Kamaljeet Kaur.

Tarlok Singh said the LMC officials were aware of more such violations in the market and that no violator would be spared.

“We will carry out a check and seal all premises where violations are found,” he remarked.



13-yr-old’s tumour removed with special technique
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Thirteen-year-old Karan Singh of Garhshankar in Hoshiarpur district has got rid of a tumour with the use of a special technique at a hospital here. He had been admitted with recurring nasal bleeding. Dr Rajiv Kapila diagnosed him with angiofibroma, a large tumour (10 cm) in the nose, which was extending to his brain and eyes and behind the maxillary bone.

The doctor operated upon him with the help of intervention radiology. Feeding vessels of the tumour were embolised by plugging blood vessels to reduce blood flow.

The tumour was removed using maxillary swing, in which the maxillary bone of the face was swung laterally (cutting open one quarter of the face to open it like a window).

The tumour was completely exposed and surgically removed after four-hour surgery. The patient recovered well and the appearance of the face was close to normal.



Mosquito larvae found in DMCH coolers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The anti-larvae wing of the department of health and family welfare found larvae of aedes mosquito in five coolers of old Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) here today. Twenty-two out of total 52 coolers checked at the hospital were found containing water.

The team headed by inspector Bhag Singh of the anti-larvae wing comprised Nirmal Singh and insect collector Krishan Dev.

The team also conducted a check at the Police Lines, where larvae were found in 15 out of 62 coolers. Also, 45 coolers at the Police Lines were found full of water.

The team destroyed the larvae with spray and cautioned the authorities to keep the coolers dry in the wake of dengue and malaria cases.

Civil surgeon Dr Satwant Bhalla called upon the officials to use public address system of gurdwaras to create awareness among residents about the threat posed by mosquitoes.



Training in mushroom cultivation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
A five-day training course on mushroom cultivation for farmers began at the Kairon Kisan Ghar today. Farmers from different parts of Punjab participated in the programme.

Technical coordinator of the course Dr PK Khanna said mushroom cultivation could be a profitable auxiliary agriculture venture that farmers could undertake after getting training from the PAU.

He said the PAU had developed technology for year-round cultivation of mushroom.

Dr TS Riar explained about the subject matter to be covered in the course and said the PAU organized such courses for the benefit of farmers from time to time.

Dr S Kapoor, Dr HS Sodhi and Dr VK Bhambota were among the experts who shared information with farmers.



3 injured in roof collapse
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
Three persons sustained injuries when the roof of an under-construction structure collapsed at Qutbewal Ariya village on the Bhatian road here today. The incident took place in the wee hours of today. Migrant labourers Inderjit (22), Mukesh (26) and Baljesh (20) were sleeping on the roof when the incident occurred.

“We heard a thud and ran out of our houses thinking it was an earthquake,” villagers said. They found the labourers, who were buried under the debris, screaming for help and they pulled them out.

In the meantime, the SHO Ladhowal reached the spot and rushed the injured to the Civil Hospital. The condition of the injured is stated to be serious as they have sustained multiple injuries and broken ribs.

The contractor claimed that he had warned the labourers not to sleep on the rooftop as it was weak.



Free physio camp at DMCH
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The DMCH will organise a free physiotherapy camp in the department of physiotherapy to mark the World Physiotherapy Day on September 8 from 9 am to 3 pm. The patients will be examined free of cost during the camp.

The day will also mark the inauguration of expanded department offering the state-of-the-art facility to patients requiring physiotherapy treatment.

Professor and head of orthopedics Dr Mohammad Yamin emphasised the role of physiotherapy in conservative and surgical rehabilitation.



Seminar on eye donation
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
A large number of people, including health professionals, attended a seminar to create awareness on voluntary eye donation at the Civil Hospital here today.

The seminar was part of the Eye Donation Fortnight, which would conclude on September 8. Dr Satwant Bhalla, Civil Surgeon, said every person should pledge eyes.

Dr Manjit Singh and Dr Ramesh also appealed to the people present to come forward for the noble cause.



Biz Clip


Ludhiana: SK Enterprises launched the first Blackberry brand kiosk in Punjab, at the Flamez Mall, Malhar Road, here on Tuesday. Blackberry also launched three new handsets, Pearl 3G, Curve 3G Kepler and Torch, which would be available to customers this month. — TNS


Ludhiana: Sant Crockery House on Arya School Road here celebrated its second anniversary on Tuesday. Jagdish and Nitish Bhatia said they were offering discounts on dinner sets, tea sets, non-stick cookware, electrical appliances and crockery from September 7 to 10. — TNS



Consumer Courts
Sony Ericsson told to replace defective phone
Company, dealer fined Rs 2,000
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 7
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ordered mobile manufacturer Sony Ericsson and its dealer M/s Ahuja Electronics, Mata Rani Road, Ludhiana, to replace the defective cellphone or return Rs 9,900 paid by the consumer at the time of purchase of a mobile phone.

Consumer forum president TN Vaidya and member Priti Malhotra also ordered them to pay Rs 2,000 as compensation on account of harassment to the consumer.

The orders came on a complaint moved by Sachdev Singh of Hargobind Nagar, Ludhiana.

The complainant had submitted before the forum that he had purchased a Sony Ericsson C510 cellphone on August 21, 2009 after making a payment of Rs 9,900.

The set was not working properly. The phone’s battery stopped charging and its keypad was also not functioning properly. Also, there was disturbance in hearing the calls.

The complainant approached the dealer, who sent him to the service centre of Sony Ericsson. They repaired the mobile phone on September 18, 2009 with the assurance that the set would not give any trouble.

However, the problem resurfaced in the mobile phone and was again repaired on March 29, 2010 by company’s authorised service centre.

A few days later, the customer had to again deposit the set with the service centre with the problem.

Thereafter, the set was returned only after serving of a legal notice on April 1.

However, the problem persisted in the phone and he deposited the set again with the service centre.

Despite several visits, his cellphone was neither repaired nor replaced.

Officials of Sony Ericsson and M/s Ahuja Electronics failed to appear before the consumer forum despite service of summons. They were proceeded against ex parte on July 13.

After appreciating the evidence on record, the consumer forum found the version of consumer to be correct and passed the judgement.



PAU Cricket
Third-Year Class emerge winners
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, September 7
Third-Year Class outplayed Postgraduate Class by 14 runs in the final of the PAU College of Agriculture Inter-Class Cricket Championship at the Punjab Agricultural University ground here today.

Batting first, the Third-Year Class scored 135 for the loss of eight wickets in the stipulated 20 overs. The main contributor was Upkardeep, who made 57 runs off 52 balls, while Neeraj and Mandeep scored 20 and 12 runs, respectively.

For the Postgraduate Class, Pushpinder claimed two wickets for 15 runs and Ravipal captured one wicket for 29 runs.

Chasing the target, the Postgraduate Class were bowled out for 121 runs with two balls to spare. Pushpinder and Jaswinder chipped in with 34 runs each, while Jagmohan contributed 14 runs.

For the winners, R Bishnoi was the pick of the bowlers grabbing three wickets for 31 runs, followed by Navjot and Neeraj, who took two for 15 and one for 13, respectively.



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