L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Highway Robbers’ Case
Wife of accused offers Rs 18-lakh bribe to SHO
2 relatives arrested with money; woman flees
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
In a shocking turn to the highway robbers’ case, the wife of Gurdeep Singh, the prime accused in the case, allegedly gave over ` 18 lakh to the Laddowal Station House Officer with an intention to bribe him.

Jasvir Kaur, wife of the owner of Balwant Sales Corporation, left in her car immediately after giving the SHO a bag carrying the cash late last night. Her relatives, Navneet Verma and Ram Chander Pannu, were arrested while giving the bribe.

ACP Narinderpal Singh Ruby said the SHO, Jatinder Singh, was approached by the wife of the accused and their relatives last evening with a plea to not arrest Gurdeep Singh. Jasvir Kaur gave the task of giving the money to the SHO to Navneet Verma and Ram Chander Pannu.

A deal was struck between the accused’s relatives and the SHO. Taking his seniors into confidence, the SHO and his associates reached the spot near Balwant Sales Corporation last night to collect the money.

The police arrested Verma and Pannu and recovered
` 18 lakh from them. Jasvir Kaur, however, fled. Cases have been registered against Verma, Pannu and Jasvir Kaur under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The Trap

The wife of the prime accused had called up the Laddowal SHO, offering him a bribe of ` 18 lakh. He reported the matter to senior police officials, who asked him to lay a trap. They decided on a spot and asked her to deliver the money there. The police arrested two of her relatives for giving bribe. Instead, however, she gave the police the slip.

Prime Accused

Gurdeep Singh of Balwant Sales Corporation, one of the oldest dealers of Tata Motors in the state, is the main accused in the case. The accused allegedly used to pay Rs 2 lakh per stolen truck to the robbers. The trucks were brought to Balwant Sales Corporation and dismantled. For giving them a new look, the chassis and engine numbers were erased and the trucks were taken to Samrala. A dozen suspects have been arrested so far


Bigg Boss Season 4
Disheartened Khali alleges results were fixed
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Disheartened over losing “Bigg Boss” WWE wrestler Khali openly criticised the show’s format and said the results were fixed. It was “Bigg Boss” who made Shweta Tiwari win otherwise she was no match to my popularity. Khali was in the city to meet his friend ADCP, Sajjan Singh Cheema.

“Shweta Tiwari never deserved to be a winner. The results were decided beforehand,” said The Great Khali, who was a strong contender of the popular reality show Bigg Boss.

Khali, who stood second in the show, said, “I am an international star while a few people know Shweta. One week before the finale my family got a call and were intimated abut the results beforehand,” he added.

Talking about another contestant Dolly Bindra, he said he could never believe that public made her enter the house even after she was eliminated. “Does anybody want a person like Dolly Bindra in the house who does not even know how to talk to others,” he added.

Khali said Bigg Boss taught him a lesson of his life. “From now on I will be carefully going through the terms and conditions before signing any programme,” said a dejected Khali after losing the show.

Sharing his experiences about the inmates of the show he said, Rahul Bhatt and Manoj Tiwari became his very good friends. The worst part of the show was when the participants use to fight for food. “My wife said she felt so sorry for me after seeing all this on TV,” added the wrestler.

Dressed in black shirt and black trousers and sporting an Indian flag on his shirt he humbly got himself photographed with everyone present there. Children gathered near his car to get one glimpse of the star.



Prices of bricks shoot up
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Prices of bricks have started showing an upward trend. The rates of the bricks (per thousand) vary between ` 4,200 to ` 4,500. The production of bricks, which has been halted from the past seven months has lead to massive increase in prices. With sun playing hide and seek and shortage of labour, the brickkiln owners have not yet decided about re-starting the production.

First it was monsoons followed by strike by the brick-kiln owners and then the winters hampered the production. Earlier, the rate of bricks (per thousand) was between ` 2,700-Rs 3,000 and brickkiln owners fear that the prices may rise further in the coming days.

"After winters, the production will start again but the shortage of labour is haunting us. There is shortage of labour in the brickkilns. Labour is going back home and we are worried about the sustenance of our business," said Ashwini Sood, senior vice-president of the Brick Kiln Owners Association.

Another brickkiln owner Jagdish Chand attributed the exceptional hike in the rates of the bricks this season to a few factors, including increasing rates of clay, labour problem and delay in the production of bricks.

While some brickkiln owners also pointed towards the provisions in the Bonded Labour Act due to which they sometimes faced problems when labourers took huge amount of money from them in advance and did not return to work.

“Once the sunshine is back we will resume our production work but we are not sure whether the prices will come down or not. Since there is acute labour shortage we are not able to meet our production targets," said Paramjit Singh, a brickkiln owner at Pakhowal Road.

While Daljeet Singh who is getting his house constructed at Sunrise Colony said the price of bricks was increasing touching the roof. "After every week there is an increase in the rate of bricks. I hope the condition will improve once sunny days are back and the production of bricks is started again," he added.



LPG Crisis
Dept doing little to check multiple connections
Anshu Seth/TNS

Ludhiana, January 12
Unable to cope with nearly 60 per cent increase in demand for domestic LPG cylinders, oil companies are unable to supply enough cylinders to gas agencies in the city, causing a delay in the delivery of refills.

Consumers are left with no option but to switch to alternative modes for cooking.

With a minimum backlog of 10 days at all agencies of Indane (IOC), Bharat Gas (BPCL) and HP Gas (HPCL), the residents are considering using electric heaters, gas stoves and ‘chullah’.

On its part, the department of district food, civil supplies and consumers affairs has neither been able to check the misuse of domestic LPG nor has it succeeded in checking the black-marketing of cylinders and restricting multiple gas connections per kitchen.

From roadside vendors to restaurants and hotels, all are using domestic LPG cylinders, thereby violating the Essential Commodities Act.

The food and civil supplies department had ordered officials to check multiple connections, but without success. The new policy is for “one regulator per kitchen”, but a large number of households in the city have more than one connection.

Shamsher Singh, a former LPG dealer, alleged: “The department in association with dealers can check multiple connections as every dealer has a record. However, those with vested interests do not allow it to happen.”

Also, there has been no check on the use of domestic LPG in cars, which has increased owing to the rise in fuel prices.

Fog makes it worse

Foggy conditions have also contributed to the LPG backlog as goods trains carrying domestic LPG are running late. Similarly, LPG supply by road gets delayed in January due to dense fog.

Dealers not responsible

The department should check multiple connections. Domestic LPG is not being sold on the black market. There is a backlog and it is being assumed that the dealers are holding back supply.

— Naveen Talwar, President,
Ludhiana LPG Distributors Association

Official take

We are doing our best to check the illegal use of domestic LPG and check its pilferage. I will be holding a meeting of LPG dealers to initiate a check on multiple connections.

— Rakesh Bhaskar, District Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Controller 



Raids on hotels, roadside vendors
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Waking up to the call given by LPG consumers harassed by shortage of gas cylinders, the teams from the district food, civil supplies and consumer affairs department today seized 10 domestic cylinders being used for commercial purposes.

The district food, civil supplies and consumer affairs controller (DFSC) west, Rakesh Bhaskar, raided various restaurants, hotels and roadside vendors and registered cases against 10 individuals/ outlets under the Essential Commodities Act. "These people are responsible for causing a backlog in the LPG supply as they bribe the dealers and their delivery boys to give them cylinders meant for domestic consumers in black," said Bhaskar.

Following the complaint of a resident from Chandigarh Road, DFSC east Rajneesh Kumari sent a team to check a complex behind Vardhman Colony, which reportedly had a gang stealing gas from standard domestic cylinders to refill small cylinders. "But the team did not find any individual or cylinders in the said complex," the DFSC said.

However, the DC office was flooded with complaints against the "corrupt practices" adopted by the DFSC staff, as a result, the ADC (general) was given the charge to supervise and streamline the working.

Additional deputy commissioner (general) Pradeep Aggarwal said that he had formulated a committee to check the gas agencies so as to streamline the distribution of gas under commercial and domestic connections. "Also, the DFSCs have been asked to conduct raids on outlets misusing domestic LPG for commercial purposes," the ADC added.



6 deaths last year, but MC blind to open manholes
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

An open manhole near the District Administrative Complex in Ludhiana
An open manhole near the District Administrative Complex in Ludhiana. Photos: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, January 12
Broken manholes on major roads of the city are posing a grave threat to the life of commuters, but the civic body has yet to pay any attention towards it.

Moreover, no boards have been installed at such places to warn commuters about uncovered manholes or pits.

One such manhole is in front of the District Administrative Complex, where the top brass of the district administration sits to redress the grievances of residents. The manhole poses danger on the busy Ferozepur Road but nobody has done anything about it.

Similarly, there are two broken manholes on the Link Road that was six-laned recently. But the MC has still to do something about it. This despite the fact that last year around six persons had died after falling in the open manholes in the city.

Congress councillor Parminder Mehta said the MC should not only focus on constructing new roads, but also maintaining them. Social activist Kuldeep Singh Khaira said it seemed that the MC did not think it was its duty to maintain roads and residents had to suffer.

Senior Deputy Mayor Praveen Bansal said he would take up the matter with the civic body.



‘84 Riots
Victims meet Canadian MP, relive horror
Kanchan Vasdev/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Twentysix years after victims of ‘84 riots lost their kin and were rendered homeless, they are nurturing a grudge against the successive governments for not having been rehabilitated.

Recounting their horrid tales to Canadian MP Sukh Dhaliwal, who visited them to listen to their grievances, riot victims said they bore the injuries and the pain but were unable to stomach the insult at the treatment meted out to them. “Our life stories are set in blood and hurt. I lost my husband during the riots. He was forced to drink petrol and then he was set afire,” said Gurdial Kaur, one of the 1,900 victims settled in the city.

Dhaliwal has in the past taken up the issue on the floor of Canadian Parliament.

Another victim, Harbans Kaur (84), said she lost her husband, son and son-in-law in the carnage. “I was forced to leave my house by people who were like my extended family,” she said, adding that she came to Ludhiana but had to move from pillar to post to get a red card.

Calling the riots a crime against humanity, Dhaliwal assured the victims that he would write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on his arrival in Canada regarding the problems of the victims. He said he would also place their case before the Sikhs for Justice in Canada.

He appealed to the victims not to adopt the path of confrontation and meet the officials concerned and elected representatives to resolve their problems. The issue, he said, was a human one need not to be politicised.



Maghi Mela
Govt flexes muscles once again
Pvt operators told to ferry passengers, not to ply buses from today
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
To flex its muscle in the Maghi Mela, which is to be held in Muktsar district on January 14, ruling party has once again “requested” private bus operators to provide their “services.” For three days (January 13 to January 15) the buses of these operators have been requisitioned to ferry large number of villagers to the main venue.

One of the office-bearers of the association disclosed that leaders were told by “officials” to provide as much mini buses as they could. The government has “offered” to pay Rs 4, 000 to the mini bus-operators as diesel expenses. Ironically, these bus operators will have to shell out Rs 5,000 for diesel, which means Rs 1,000 will have to be borne by the bus operators, themselves.

Apart from diesel expenses, both driver and conductor charge Rs 300 each daily from the operators. “This means, we will have to pay Rs 1,800 to them for staying at Muktsar for three days. Why should we pay Rs 3,000 from our pocket to make their Maghi Mela successful? They have asked us not to ply our buses from tomorrow for three days. Are we their slaves? We are living in a democratic country, but this kind of behaviour is totally autocratic,” rued the bus operator.

As per the association members, at least 400 mini buses were plying in Ludhiana district (25 kilometer area) alone. And each bus covers four routes (to and fro becomes eight rounds). After deducting all expenses, these bus operators save approximately Rs 1,000 per day. If they are not allowed to ply on the roads for three days, they will lose Rs 3,000.

“If they offer us good amount, we will arrange more buses wholeheartedly. As per the government’s policy, if buses are required for some government work, fixed amount of Rs 3,750 per day should be given to big buses. Apart from this, the government will also have to pay for lubricant and diesel. And for mini buses, fixed amount was of Rs 2,500 (diesel/lubricant extra) per day. But they are not adhering to their own instructions. Secondly, the conductors and the drivers have refused to oblige them this time due to the festival season.

We will certainly not bow to such pressure tactics,” complained another bus operator.

The operators have been asked to gather at the backyard of Arora Palace in the evening today and early morning tomorrow by authorities. Apart from the mini buses, the private operators of big buses have also been asked to provide their vehicles 
as well. 

‘We will not oblige’

Come what may, the small-scale bus operator association has decided that it will not “oblige” the government this time and prefer instead to bear all losses. It has decided to go off road rather than give their buses.

— Office-bearer of small-scale bus operator association



House Tax
Over 3 lakh buildings but only 86,075 assessees
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
In an example of the laxity of the Municipal Corporation (MC) authorities in collecting revenue, house tax has been collected from only 86,075 buildings in the city even though the number of buildings have increased manifold.

Information obtained under the RTI Act by social activist Rohit Sabharwal reveals that from 2002-2003 to March 31, 2009, house tax was levied on 86,075 buildings. However, the number of commercial institutions, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions have increased ever since.

The audit branch of the finance department had also raised objections to this “minute number” of buildings. The audit report said it was strange that though the number of commercial institutions had increased fourfold in the city, the number of assessees was still the same.

The audit department said mobile companies had also installed more than 100 towers in the city, yet the number of house tax assessees had not increased. The report said due to this the MC was incurring huge losses and it needed to be checked immediately. Sabharwal said it was odd that in a city with a population of more than 40 lakh, only 86,075 were paying house tax.

Sources in the MC said this number was not even one third of the total commercial buildings in the city.

Joint Commissioner BK Gupta, in charge of the house tax branch, said the buildings on which tax was levied was more than 90,000 now. There were over three lakh buildings, but a large number had been exempted from house tax due to government policy, he added.



Hargobind Nagar Locality
Sewage overflowing on streets
Manvinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
While city Mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura is holding Sangat Darshan across the city claiming that it will solve the problems of different localities, residents of Hargobind Nagar locality in the ward adjoining that of his is crying for basic civic amenities.

Street number seven of the locality is in bad shape as there is no proper road and commuters face a lot of problem.

In the same manner, the contaminated water from the sewerage line is overflowing and has made it difficult for residents to move out of their houses. Even the vacant plots in the area have been filled with the contaminated water. In the absence of proper road, the continuous flow of water has turned the whole area into a marshy land. Moreover, stink of garbage and contaminated water makes life difficult for residents.

Residents Say

The residents rued that they had complained to the authorities a number of times but all in vain. They even met the MC Mayor a number of times but they did not get any satisfactory reply from him. Some of them also rued that it was a chronic problem for which the civic body had never bothered to rectify.

To add to their woes, delay in ongoing developmental works in the adjoining streets has also created serious problems, as the MC authorities have not got the dug-up roads repaired due to which the pedestrians are facing a lot of problem.

Though the MC Mayor was not available for comments when contacted JL Bansal, Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) of the operation, said that the problem occurred because the sewerage line was small and the load of sludge was too much. However, he asserted that it would be cleared soon.



Steel prices up by 4 per cent
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Industrialists began the New Year on a sore note with prices of steel going up by 3 to 4 per cent. Integrated steel plants have raised prices of steel by a hefty margin from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,000 per tonne.

The argument that the inputs to manufacture steel have gone up is not justified. The price of iron ore has also gone up by 5 per cent. The cost of iron ore in the manufacturing of steel is hardly 15 per cent. So, the increase of 5 per cent in iron ore prices cannot correspond to the same increase in steel prices. The price of cooking coal has risen marginally and does not justify the increase in the steel prices.

“Steel users have a grouse with the government for allowing the cartel of certain manufacturers to thrive. The price of steel is arrived at on the basis of import parity. The global support price is the reference and other costs like freight are added as if the steel has to be brought to India. The Indian industry pays more than Rs 5,000 a tonne in excess compared to steel users in the other countries. This means that the Indian industry is out of competition with the other industries. Moreover, the Indian industry has to bear other costs which are higher than those borne by the industry in other countries,” PD Sharma, president of the Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said.

The gravest result of “undue” rise in steel prices is that the indigenous industry will get weakened further. The MSME is particularly vulnerable to the emerging scenario.

“Generally, raw material producers give rebates on the purchase of high volume of raw material, but since small units do not have huge purchasing power, they fail to get any rebate. Moreover, smaller units cannot avail of cheaper imported raw materials for the same reason,” added another industrialist.



Minimum temp dips as low as 2°C
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Though two-days sun-shine has brought much relief to the residents, who were tired of the biting cold, the minimum mperature dipped as low as 2 degrees celsius here in the past 24 hours.

The evenings and nights have become much colder with temperature falling between 2 and 3 degrees. While the maximum temperature has increased to 17.8 degree celsius.

Dr KK Gill, assistant agro- meteorologist, PAU informed that with the rise in day temperature, minimum temperature would fall. "As the days are clearing, the hours of sun-shine have increased and with this minimum temperature is expected to fall. We expect the minimum temperature to fall further if days remained sunny.

The chances of frost will also increase. In case western isturbances occur after January 13, minimum temperature will increase", said Gill.



Dragon swallows Bareilly
Downward swing for domestic kite string market
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
It is an invasion of a different kind. After mobile phones, electronic goods, make-up products and fashionable jewellery, China has now sent its kite strings to capture the Indian skies.

Light-weight Chinese string is selling like hot cakes across the city. Priced at Rs 300-Rs 500, a big reel of plastic string is enough to fly a kite as far as 80 km. Though Chinese kites made of durable plastic and auto-thread winders, besides battery-operated kites, can be seen in the market, but these have not gained much popularity due to high prices.

Though the exact figures are difficult to work out as it is an unorganised trade, the foreign products are estimated to make a business of over Rs 2 crore in the city. Weather is playing a spoilsport and has dashed the hopes of kite traders.

“Our business has witnessed a major slump for the past some years owing to the popularity of Chinese products. Undoubtedly, their product is more durable and better priced, but unrestricted market policies of the government have hit us hard. Moreover, the prevailing weather has added to our woes,” said Rajinder Kumar, a kite trader at the Daresi kite market. He said earlier, too, Chinese products had affected the sales but this year it was unprecedented.

Another kite trader, Sanjeev Khurana, said: “Our business is of a seasonal nature and brings in profits only during Lohri as it is celebrated as the festival of kites. This year, the Chinese ‘dor’ has ruined our trade as customers are not buying the traditional Bareilly thread.”

Speaking about the trend, president of the Daresi kite makers’ association Rajeev Sharma said: “Made of plastic and nylon, the Chinese strings are more durable and stretchable than the Indian thread which is made of cotton. The sharp-edged thread is of immense help in kite duels. This is the primary reason for its popularity.”

He said ‘dor’ makers from Bareilly had stayed away from the city for this reason. “Earlier, ‘dor’ makers from UP used to descend on the city in December to cater to the huge demand for kites and thread in January, but now they do not come to the city any more. Some who came left in the absence of any business,” he added.

There are about 2,000 ‘dor’ makers in Ludhiana alone. And with the Chinese thread hitting the popularity charts, a majority of these ‘dor’ makers are on the verge of penury as there are no takers for traditional “manjha”.

“The Chinese thread can be fatal and has been banned by several state governments. I don’t understand why the Punjab government is not following suit? Is it waiting for something grave to happen before imposing a ban on the deadly ‘dor’?” Sharma stated.

No ban yet in city

Following the death of a child in Khanna last year due to a plastic string, a ban was imposed on its use in rural areas. An order was imposed by the Ludhiana Additional Deputy Commissioner on December 10, 2010. However, no ban on the use or sale of these lethal strings within the city limits has been imposed by the Police Commissioner so far.

All for paper kites

“Chinese kites are heavy, expensive and made of plastic cloth, which takes away the charm of aerial acrobatics,” Harminder Singh, a kite maker, says. Indian kites are light in weight, cheaper and much more fun. “Till the time you do not cut some strings in kite duels, there is no fun. Real fun lies in flying paper kites,” says Bittu, a kite flier.

Bollywood heights

Huge cutouts of Bollywood stars in the form of kites are a hit among youngsters. Those with photographs of Hrithik Roshan, John Abraham, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan are selling like hot cakes. “We have got many orders for 8 feet kites with pictures of actors on them. They are selling very well and are reasonably priced at Rs 60 to Rs 65 per kite,” said Surinder Singh, a kite trader. While Bollywood machos will put up a fight in the city skies during Lohri, Tinsel Town belles will stay away from kite duels. “Nobody wants to fly a ‘Munni’ or ‘Sheela’,” grinned Satinder Singh, another kite trader. Other popular motifs are of Gods and Goddesses, Harry Potter, animals, birds, devils, sun and hearts.

Birds at risk

The rapid sale of plastic thread has caused concern among bird lovers in the city as it has replaced the conventional cotton thread. There is growing concern among residents that birds might fall prey to the lethal string.

Plastic thread is considered dangerous for humans and birds alike. In the absence of stringent laws, the sale of this string is going on unchecked.

Every year, numerous pigeon deaths are reported in various parts of the city due to the plastic thread. Also, many residents have sustained injuries with the thread while flying kites.

Rakesh Jain, an animal rights activist, has expressed concern over the increasing sale of plastic thread. “Traditional merry-making is posing a threat and can even be fatal for thousands of birds every year. Maximum kites are flown in Ludhiana in January, which results in a reduction of bird population by 40 per cent in one month alone,” he said.

Spearheading a campaign against kite flying, the local chapter of the Pakshi Seva Samati has appealed to residents to avoid the Chinese strings. “Cases of birds dying after being entangled in plastic threads keep pouring in throughout the year,” said Vipan Bhatia, founder president of the Samati.

He has requested residents to bring the injured birds to their bird care centre. The residents can also contact on their helpline no. 9888199720.



‘Govt on stone laying spree’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
A rousing reception awaits Union Minister for External Affairs SM Krishna when he arrives along with Minister of the State in his ministry Praneet Kaur, on January 14 to formally inaugurate the passport office in the city.

President of the District Youth Congress Dimple Rana said today that the passport office had become operational due to the efforts of local MP Manish Tewari.

While charging the state government with befooling people by embarking on a foundation stone laying spree, Rana said in most of the cases, no actual work had been taken up after lying of foundation stones. “Cadres of the District Youth Congress had been asked to gather information on such stalled projects.



CPI cautions govt against rising prices
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
The CPI has cautioned against rising fundamentalism, which it feared, could split society as well as lead to a serious economic crisis in the country.

The general body meeting of the district unit of the party observed that recent exposure of involvement of the RSS in various terrorist activities and killing of Governor of Punjab in Pakistan - a tragic incident supported of over 200 maulvis, was a serious issue. While strongly condemning the government for its failure to provide basic rights like food, education, health care, shelter and a quality life, the meeting called for emergent and effective steps to curb these trends.

Addressing the meeting, central committee member of CPI Dr Joginder Dayal said all these were taking place because the government was shying away from its responsibility to provide basic necessities to the people while also encouraging corporate sector at the cost of vast majority of deprived population.

“The spiraling prices of all essential items have hit the common man hard who are now forced to cut down their caloric intake which, in time, will lead to malnutrition. If everything is to be market driven then what is the government for?” he asked.

Dr Dayal asserted that the government had to take care of masses who had voted it to power. But the government was giving lot of subsidies to the corporate sector whereas the common man was being burdened by indirect taxes and rising prices. He urged the government to take necessary measures to curb prices and act against hoarders and profiteers.

Expressing concern over the large-scale corruption at the high level, the CPI leader strongly reacted to Union Telecommunication Minister Kapil Sibbal’s statement on CAG in context of 2-G spectrum, terming it as a direct interference in the affairs of a constitutional body and a subtle move to defend his predecessor A Raja.

He also lambasted the state government for failure to control law and order in the state and also resolve the burning issues of the people of the state, including those of peasants, farm workers, teachers, anganwari and ASHA workers.

Other speakers said the party would oppose the anti-people policies of the Central and state governments and for this purpose, it would sensitise the people both in the villages and cities of Punjab. They reiterated the decision of the party to fully support the national protest against the anti-workers policies of the government to be held on February 23 by national trade unions. 



‘Lohri for girls a farce, Punjabis still prefer male child’
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 12
Despite a large number of social and religious organisations pretending to fight against the gender bias, celebrating first lohri of daughters, Punjabis love for male child is still strong in both rural and urban areas of the state.

The tendency, besides other elements of social behaviour is supported by first few questions, which are asked from nurses coming out of labour rooms after the delivery.

Health of the mother and weight of the child are least important while the gender takes the priority. Elite families are no exception to the tendency.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that family members of expectant mothers were more curious to know about the child’s sex than their well-being.

While nurses bringing news of the birth of a male child are awarded generously, those informing about arrival of a girl child are levelled as ‘wretched’.

A nurse was shocked to know the concern of family members of a mother of two daughters whose condition had worsened after delivering the third girl.

“Maan nun chhad eh dass munda hoyea ke fer pathar jamm piya,” was a reaction of a mother-in-law when she was informed that a unit of blood would be required to revive her blood pressure.

Dr Garima Hind, a gynecologist, who has recently shifted here from Manipal, wondered that despite tall claims about sensitization against gender bias people were stuck up in old mindset.

“While in Manipal people are more concerned about mother’s health and that of the baby, here in Punjab, first question people ask is about sex of the child,” she regretted. Only a few bothers to enquire if the child had cried immediately after the birth, which is the most important event in the new born child’s life.



Daughter, a reason to smile
Anshu Seth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
“Love for a daughter made me a mother for the third time and celebrating her first Lohri is a pleasure for the whole family, including my sons," revealed Sharanjit, the mother of one of the 14 infants (female) who were given fixed deposits of Rs 5,100 on Lohri Mela, celebrated today at Punjabi Bhawan.

The mela was organised by the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch Punjab, accredited for celebrating the birth of "girl child" on Lohri for the past one decade.

Sharanjit Kaur, a homemaker from a middle-income family, is indeed an example of a "revolutionary mom" as she wants her daughter "Amandeep" to be an answer to the unjust towards girls/women.

"Despite having two sons, with the younger one being six years old, I couldn't give up on my desire to have a daughter,' shares Sharanjit.

Sharing similar sentiments, Davinder, a carpenter from Gill Road held his five-month-old daughter Jasmeet with utmost pride adding, "Celebrating her first Lohri is just a way to repay her for all the smiles and joy that Jasmeet has brought in our family."

The radiant looking Baljeet Kaur, (Jasmeet's grandmother) was unable to hold back her excitement as she confessed to her delight on getting a granddaughter. "I am dead against dowry as I didn't accept anything in my son's wedding and I plan to stick to the principles while marrying Jasmeet," said the proud grandmother.

"Our family was incomplete till we were blessed with a daughter, who has added to our joys," said another couple present on the occasion.



86 poor students given scholarships
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
Scholarships worth Rs 2.40 lakh were distributed to 86 poor and needy students of 12 girls colleges and one school by Senior Citizens Conclave (SCC) here today.

Rakesh Bharti Mittal, chief patron of the body, was the chief guest at the function.

Speaking at the occasion, Joginder Singh, president of the conclave, said distribution of scholarships was an annual feature with the objective of serving the marginalised section of society.

Giving out the highlights of the scholarship scheme, Dr DB Sharma, general secretary of the body, said that among the recipients of the scholarships were 59 students (30 old and 29 new) of 11 local girls colleges, each given SCC scholarship of Rs 3000 (total amount Rs 1.77 lakh). 12 students (5 old and 7 new) of SDP Senior Secondary School were given Dr Hans Raj scholarship of Rs 1,500 each (total amount Rs 18,000).

Another 15 students (4 old and 11 new) of SRS Government Polytechnic College for Girls were awarded Sat Pal Mittal scholarship of Rs 3,000 each (total amount Rs 45,000).

He said the funds available for distribution as scholarships were largely donated by members of the conclave, which had a strength of 133.



Single-window help desk for industry opened
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The Central Excise Commissionerate has launched “Income Tax Single Window Help Desk” facility at the Central Excise House, Rishi Nagar, to redress the queries of the trade and industry in a prompt and smooth manner. The help desk was inaugurated by Central Commissioner Excise Charanjit Singh.

In his address, Charanjit Singh said the economy of any country depended on the growth of the industry and the industry could grow only if it got a free hand and the systems/procedures were made hassle-free.

Keeping this in mind, the government had been liberalising the policies and trying to provide more facilities to the trade and industry so that industrialists could concentrate more on the quality of products to compete in the international market. The helpline is another step towards this direction.

More such help desks at divisional offices will be opened soon, he added.



Lohri celebrated with fervour
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The Sarabha Nagar Senior Citizens Welfare Society today celebrated Lohri dedicated to "nanhi chaan". All grandparents of the girls were given mementos. Ajit Singh Pahwa, president, recited a poem on the girl child while Harbhajan Singh speaking on the occasion expressed concern over the decreasing number of girls in the state.

"Girls are no less than boys and are marching ahead in every field.

Everyone who is blesses with a girl child should celebrate her Lohri and give a message of equality among the masses," he added.

Amidst the freezing cold weather, to break the monotony, Sportking Institute of Fashion Technology celebrated Lohri with great zeal. Students offered prayers around the bonfire and sang folk song "Sunder mundrerye" on the beat of the dhol.

Dancing on the tunes of popular Punjabi numbers they also munched popcorns and peanuts.

Kite flying competition was also organised in which Sumit Baweja stood first.



Judges, lawyers celebrate too
Our Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
Lawyers and Judges celebrated Lohri with gaiety at the District Court Complex here today. In the joyous atmosphere, several lawyers, judges shared jokes and sang couplets and songs.

The District and Sessions Judge SP Bangarh, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Harish Rai Dhanda, DBA president Naval Kishore Chhibber prayed around the bonfire. They congratulated the lawyers on this occasion.

Additional Sessions Judge Arunvir Vashisht highlighted the importance of Lohri and apprised as to how this festival began to be celebrated.



People oppose mobile tower, meet DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
In order to get a tower of a leading mobile company removed from a residential locality of the city, residents of the area met the Deputy Commissioner and demanded immediate action in this regard as it was posing serious threat to their life and property.

A delegation comprising residents of Shaheed Karnail Singh Nagar Phase -III met Deputy Commissioner, Rahul Tiwari, at his office and demanded that the tower should be removed from the locality immediately. They alleged that the life of people were in danger as the tower could fall any time. “We have already submitted complaints in this regard to a number of officers but no action has been taken on it so far,” the residents said.



People protest encroachment bid
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Irked by a few persons attempt to encroach upon a piece of public land once again after an illegal construction was removed from it by the civic body recently, residents of New Kartar Nagar locality lodged their protest yesterday.

The building branch of the MC had demolished a building falling under “A” zone street at New Kartar Nagar, asserting that it was built on a piece of land meant for road.

However, the defaulters were back, trying to encroach upon the land by allegedly starting construction activity on it.

Perturbed over the development, area residents, including Gurpinder Singh, Bunty Chawla, Harsh Singh, Manpreet Singh, Sandeep Goel, Jatin Bhandari, Kaka Sood, Kulwant Singh, Sanjeev Aggarwal, staged a protest at the site here.



DS Cheema is PAU dean
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Dr Devinder Singh Cheema, head, vegetable department, has been appointed Dean, College of Agriculture, Punjab Agriculture University. The decision was taken during meeting of the Board of Management of the PAU at Mohali today.

According to available information, the charge of dean was given to Dr Yadvinder Singh, head (Research) after Dr MS Aulakh retired. Dr Cheema did his postgraduation from the PAU in 1979 while in 1982 he submitted his Ph.D. Dr Cheema has developed 12 varieties of vegetables, including tomato, pumpkin and carrot.



Man’s foreign dream turns sour
Three neighbours dupe him of Rs 11 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Angrez Singh, son of Jagir Singh, a resident of Bhagwan Nagar, Dholewal, was duped of Rs 11 lakh by his neighbour Hoshiar Singh and three others, for sending the former to Spain on a fake visa.

Angrez Singh, who was eager to go to Spain, contacted one of his neighbours Hoshiar Singh, who assured that he could fulfill his dream if he was willing to shell out Rs 11 lakh. Hoshiar Singh, one of the accused, took Rs 3 lakh as advance money from Angrez Singh.

Hoshiar Singh, the main accused, along with three of his associates-- Jasbir Singh, Balbir Singh and Surjit Singh-got a fake visa stamped for Angrez Singh. Remaining amount of Rs 8 lakh was also taken from Angrez Singh for getting the fake visa. Hoshiar Singh also asked Angrez Singh to go to Spain Embassy in New Delhi for getting the visa and other documents verified.

On reaching Delhi, Angrez Singh was rounded up by Spain Embassy. He was handed over to Delhi police for carrying fake documents.

Angrez Singh remained behind bars for almost a month before he was released on bail. After reaching Ludhiana, he contacted the Commissioner of Police.

A case under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B was registered against Hoshiar Singh and four other accused last night. The accused are absconding and no arrest has been made so far.



Proclaimed offender arrested
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, January 12
The Ludhiana rural police has arrested a proclaimed offender near Chownkiman village. The accused, Dilbag Singh, of Kaunke Kalan village, near Jagraon, was wanted in a criminal case registered against him in 1992.

He was declared a proclaimed offender by a Ludhiana court in 2005 and had been absconding ever since.

Sub-inspector Jaspal Singh Chopra said Dilbag Singh was wanted under Section 304 of the IPC. He was arrested by a police team near Chownkiman village recently when he was going towards Ludhiana.

According to the police, during preliminary investigation the accused admitted that he had been living in Uttar Pradesh after being declared a proclaimed offender. He worked in a sugar mill on a changed name, said the police.



Punjab eves win silver, men bronze
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, January 12
Punjab men's and women's teams performed well to finish among position holders in the 32nd Senior National Softball Championship held at Engineering College, Sector 12, Chandigarh between January 5 to 10.

According to honorary secretary, Punjab Softball Association, Pran Nath Passi, Punjab eves secured silver medal as they went down fighting in the final against Kerala 3-1 while Punjab men's team lost to Chandigarh 3-5 in the semi final. In the match to decide third and fourth poistions, Punjab men overpowered Kerala 7-3 to content with a bronze medal.

Members of the two teams were given a rousing reception on arriving here today.



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