L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Wheat arrival yet to pick up
Only 1,425 tonnes of crop reaches mandis
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
As farmers in this part of the region have still not started harvesting through combines, the arrival of wheat in Ludhiana mandis is much slower as compared to the previous year.

Records of the district mandi office reveal that 1,425 tonnes of wheat has arrived in different mandis till date as compared to 1,67,747 tonnes in the corresponding period last year.

District mandi officer Rajpal Singh Dhaliwal told The Tribune that farmers had started with the manual harvesting this season and combines are still not being used. He said only 1,425 tonnes of wheat had arrived in Khanna, Ludhiana city, Rauni, Raipur and Issuru mandis out of which 585 tonnes was sold while 840 tonnes was still lying in mandis.

Besides private buyers, the other procurement agencies that have lifted the wheat include the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Markfed, Punsup and Agrotech. "Last year, the crop had matured early and farmers had started early harvesting both manually and with machines. But this time, due to low temperature, the arrival of wheat was yet to pick up,” Dhaliwal added.

Chief agriculture officer Dr RS Pandher said the crop had not matured fully due to low temperature. "We have been visiting villages but not single a harvesting combine has been noticed. Farmers are doing harvesting manually, which is quite a different trend as compared to the previous years. Even the crop cutting experiments are being delayed due to changing weather conditions,” he said.

"There was rain and hailstorm at many parts in the district but we have not received any report of damage to the crop. The weather is quite unpredictable. It was a sunny day today, if similar weather conditions persist, we expect peak arrival of wheat in mandis within a week,” said Dr Pandher.


Manual harvesting stages comeback
Hike in chaff prices reason behind the trend
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 13
Hike in the prices of wheat chaff due to the increased demand in paper industry and the flourishing dairy industry has resulted in the restoration of the manual harvesting and use of thrashers and haranba.

Migrant labourers are preferred for the job as they do not demand chaff and fodder for their cattle like their Punjabi counterparts do.

Unlike the earlier years, farmers now converge on railway stations and bus stands to engage migrant labourers instead of ringing up owners of combine harvesters. Fear of weather adversity seems to have forced farmers to employ more men at work than which were usually required.

Manual harvesting of wheat crop has been adopted by a majority of farmers in this part of the Malwa belt. While the owners of combine harvesters were frustrated due to less demand, agricultural labourers were better bargainers this year.

“Contrary to the earlier trend, owners of combine harvesters are calling us daily to fix dates of our choice. But we have to go in search of migrant labourers at railway stations and bus stops,” said Avtar Singh, a farmer of Kilaraipur village, adding the situation had arisen due to the unprecedented rise in price of the wheat chaff.

Increased consumption of chaff in the manufacture of paper, flourishing dairy farms and burning of residual stubble during the past years were cited to be the main reasons for this spurt in the price of dry fodder.

Bakil Mandal, a migrant labour contractor said, a farmer of Gopalpur village had given him the contract for reaping on the condition of employing at least six persons at a time. “We have been asked to reap wheat crop standing in at least one acre land everyday. We will be paid Rs 2,500 for each acre of crop,” said Mandal, adding meals and tea would be provided by the farmer.

The Punjabi labour on the contrary demands two quintals of wheat and four quintals of chaff for reaping the crop one acre of land.



Sect denies killing was linked to succession struggle
Shivani Bhakoo & Gurminder Grewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
Followers of the Sikh ‘Namdhari’ sect, based in Bhaini Sahib village near here, have condemned the brutal killing of one of their members, Avtar Singh Tari, 57, on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway. However, the ‘Namdhari darbar’ general secretary, Jagdish Singh, maintained the incident had nothing to do with the battle for succession for the ‘guru gaddi’ (sect’s leadership).

Tari was shot dead in broad daylight by three unidentified assailants on Tuesday while he was on his way to Bhaini from Mohali. The police found 11 empty cartridges from the crime scene.

A press statement issued on Wednesday said the sect condemned the murder and extended its condolences to the family of the deceased. “Some sections of the media linked the incident with the succession of the ‘guru gaddi’, but this is not true”. Jaswant urged the police to apprehend the suspects as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, several police teams were dispatched to Bhaini today to ensure normalcy in the village. Several followers of sect leader Jagjit Singh as well as relatives of Tari visited the spot where latter was murdered. However, all the members of the sect remained tightlipped.

Harvinder Hanspal, a sect follower, said the sect’s affairs were being “managed” by Jagjit’s son-in-law, Jagtar Singh, and his nephew, Udey Singh. "The incident is shocking but it shouldn’t be linked with the succession of the ‘guru gaddi’ - it could’ve been triggered by personal rivalry. The police is working on various theories but nothing has come out for the time being", he added.

City police commissioner Ishwar Singh, who has dispatched ADCP (crime) Kuldeep Singh to Bhaini to investigate the case, said: "We’re working on different angles but there so far there are no leads”.

“I’m camping in Bhaini and the situation is normal. Tari’s widow is expected to arrive here from Australia later in the evening and we’re waiting for her and her son. We can’t comment on the issue unless we talk to the deceased’s family members", said Kuldeep.

The Tribune tried to speak to some sect followers but the latter were reluctant to provide any information, saying they were “not in a position” to discuss it.

When asked whether the suspects used AK-47 assault rifle to commit the murder, police spokesman Bhupinder Singh said forensic experts had not submitted their report yet. "Several police teams have been set up to investigate the murder and we’re expecting an early breakthrough", he claimed.



Silver continues to outshine gold
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
With prices of silver, the poor man's gold, hitting an all-time high, the white metal is fetching better returns but is gradually becoming out of reach for most ordinary folks. Surpassing all previous records, silver has soared to a record high of Rs 61,000 per kg. Demand for the yellow metal is declining due to lack of local buying interest as well as the slump in jewellery offtake amid weakening trend in overseas markets.

"Seeing prices soaring people are buying silver and stocking it. Many are buying it as an investment while some are stocking it to be used later at weddings and other special family occasions," added a jeweller in Ghumar Mandi.

Jewellers and coin manufacturers are purchasing silver in advance to accommodate the higher requirements for the coming wedding season. Demand from industrial units such as those making electrical conductors and circuits and batteries has also picked up on fears of a further rise in prices of the white metal. Industrial applications including electrical conductors and batteries, mostly used in automotive vehicles, accounted for about one-half of the demand for silver.

"In view of the rising silver prices we’re buying it in advance to accommodate the wedding season. We’ve never seen silver prices reaching such a high. Only six months before prices hovered at at around Rs 25,000 per kg and today the prices have zoomed to about Rs 61,000 per kg. In the coming months they may cross Rs 75,000 per kg," said Santosh Aggarwal, a jeweller at the city’s Sarafan Bazar.

“Demand for the white metal, which has a number of industrial applications, has always been there. But with prices going through the roof silver is gradually becoming out of reach for the common man," said Rohit Gupta, a local industrialist.



Traffic cops get beauty tips
Shivani Bhakoo/Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
The traffic police, which performs its duty in scorching heat on the city’s polluted and congested streets, has often drawn flak for harassing commuters. Now, in a unique initiative taken by a local beauty salon, cops managing the chaotic traffic were given beauty tips to protect their skin from pollution, dust and harmful sunrays. Not only was the gesture highly appreciated by the cops but many of them raised queries about getting their skin “glowing” again.

About a hundred traffic cops were given beauty tips by Abhey Girdhar of the salon, Piazza Beauty Clinic, on ways to protect their skin during extreme weather conditions at the Police Lines. The “beauty experts” asked the cops to cleanse, tone, moisturize and protect their skin every day to decrease the harmful effects of sunrays, pollution and dust. Besides, the cops were provided information about anti-tan face packs and facial scrubs.

"I used to at them (traffic cops) and wonder how they managed their tough job-in pouring rain, scorching heat and harsh winters. The skin of most cops has become severely tanned. We met senior traffic police officials to let us inculcate awareness among the cops about their skin and were met with a positive response. We initially thought cops wouldn’t take our advice seriously but they were more than happy to know everything about their skin", said Girdhar.

Besides, the cops were given promotional products by a company to improve their skin texture. Said Bhupinder Singh (name changed), a traffic cop: “We’re almost always at the receiving end of the public’s ire and are really moved by this initiative. Even our kids taunt us for having dark skin. Even if we can’t improve our skin we can still protect it. Using dyes for colouring hair is also very harmful. Now I’ll start using hair-colours (ammonia-free) to avoid ammonia on scalp. I’m feeling so encouraged and will spend at least Rs 500 on myself every month to get good sun-screens and scrubs", he said.

Many cops asked questions about products to make their skin “glow” again. “We’ll urge our bosses to organise such initiatives every now and then”, said some.



City set to usher in golden hues
Gurdwaras in the city have been decked up to welcome the harvesting season
Charu Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Children attired in traditional dresses dance on dhol beats on the eve of Baisakhi in Ludhiana on Wednesday
Children attired in traditional dresses dance on dhol beats on the eve of Baisakhi in Ludhiana on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, April 13
The spirit of Baisakhi is present everywhere, as the city gears up to celebrate the festival of harvest with great fervour tomorrow.

All gurdwaras across the city have been decked up to welcome the month of Baisakh with open arms. Devotees will throng gurdwaras to seek the blessings of Almighty at the onset of the Punjabi New Year that marks the beginning of the harvest season and summers.

Elaborate floral embellishments, colourful lighting, flags and buntings are adorning the premises of city gurdwaras even as preparations for community langars are in full swing in their community kitchens.

Arrangements for special kirtan darbars, Gurbani and Akhand Path have also been made well in advance at various gurdwaras in and around the city.

Special arrangements have been made at the three major historical gurdwaras on the outskirts of Ludhiana - Manji Sahib Gurdwara at Alamgir village and Phlahi Sahib near Alamgir and Rara Sahib Gurdwara near Dehlon village.

These three gurdwaras are expected to witness a massive turnout of devotees tomorrow. Thousands of devotees, keen to take a dip in the holy sarovars of the three historical gurdwaras visit the religious places every year on Baisakhi. Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib on Jagraon Bridge, too, is decked up for the occasion.

“All gurdwaras will also witness the recitation of the historical facts related to the creation of the Order of the Khalsa on March 30, 1699, by Guru Gobind Singh. The 10th Sikh Guru's teachings will also be remembered,” says septuagenarian Dashmesh Singh, who has been participating in the Baisakhi celebrations at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib since several years.

Another city resident Harkrishan Singh said: “Families will start coming in from the early hours of the day for the preparations. Everyone will whole-heartedly participate in the kitchen to prepare the community meal “langar” that has the unmistakable stamp of brotherhood and equality.”

Meanwhile, numerous educational institutions, including schools and colleges celebrated Baisakhi with religious fervour here today on the account of a public holiday tomorrow.

Campuses wore a festive look and students, attired in beautiful traditional Punjabi dresses sang and danced to the tunes of folk songs and recalled the Sikh Gurus teachings and vowed to imbibe them in their lives.

Students of Pinnacle Institute of Fashion Technology celebrated the festival with a special project. They decorated a room on Baisakhi theme and depicted the rich Punjabi culture. They made colourful rangolis and displayed the heritage of Punjab with their vibrant creations of salwar-kameez, turban, kurta and chadra. They sang and danced and also played fun-filled games.



Slanderous Remarks Against Martyrs
Cong told to tender apology
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 13
Objectionable and slanderous remarks made about martyrs Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru in the mouthpiece of the Indian National Congress "Congress Sandesh", have evoked a sense of disgust and anger among the people here.

While the activists of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) today burnt copies of "Congress Sandesh", the Congress mouthpiece, functionaries of the Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Memorial Trust served a 48-hour ultimatum to the Congress to tender an unconditional apology for showing disrespect to the martyrs failing which they would sit on an indefinite hunger strike.

Addressing a news conference here today, Ashok Thapar, president of Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar Memorial Trust, along with other functionaries, slammed the Indian National Congress for what he termed as slanderous and defamatory remarks about the martyrs trio.

"Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru had laid down their lives for the freedom of the country without any regard for any particular religion, caste or creed. But the Congress mouthpiece has virtually belittled their sacrifice by dividing the martyrs into different castes and terming them as killers of a British police officer," he stated.

The Trust functionaries said they would resort to an indefinite hunger strike from April 15 at 10 am if the Congress failed to apologise to the nation for this shameful act.

Expressing similar sentiments, the BJYM activists staged a demonstration and burnt copies of “Congress Sandesh” at the Clock Tower Chowk here.

District president of BJP Rajiv Katna and BJYM president Kantendu Sharma maintained that the martyrs were never known by their caste or religion, as they were committed to the welfare of their respective countries. Calling upon the Congress to tender an unconditional apology to the nation for this act, they threatened to launch a mass agitation if the party failed to regret its act.



MC foils encroachment bid
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 13
A team of officials from the building branch of Municipal Corporation (MC) today foiled a bid by certain persons to encroach upon public land within the parking at the Transport Nagar here.

Led by assistant town planner (B-zone) Harpreet Ghai, the MC staff razed a boundary wall being constructed in an area of about 250 square yards, allegedly meant for a temple.

There was not much resistance in demolition of the structure, as the transporters and other area residents stood in support of the move.

The top brass of the MC, taking note of the directions of the apex court on mushrooming encroachments by different religious bodies, had reportedly made it clear to its building branch that any fresh encroachment by religious institutions in the city will be viewed very seriously and concerned supervisory officials would be held responsible.

According to MC officials, at least 25 encroachments on public or government land by religious bodies were identified in the mega city for demolition.

The list had already been submitted to the deputy commissioner for necessary action.

It was learnt that following the directions of the Supreme Court on religious encroachments, the MC building branch had submitted a list of 128 such encroachments in the city. Out of these, the MC listed 103 encroachments as over a decade old, while 25 were constructed in recent years.

As per the court directions, the encroachments that had taken place more than 10 years ago were to be exempted from action and steps were taken to regularise them through sale of lease.



No-confidence motion against council chief fails
No councillor voted in favour of motion
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, April 13
The no-confidence motion moved against the chief of the local civic body failed for want of required number of councillors voting in favour of the motion.

Even the councillors who had requisitioned special meeting for discussing the no-confidence motion voted in favour of Usha Sood, the president of the council. All the present 15 councillors expressed faith in functioning of the council led by Sood.

Though the legislator from Malerkotla and associate member of the council Razia Sultana abstained from the meeting, Dhuri MLA Iqbal Singh Jhoondan played active role in persuading annoyed councillor to vote against the motion.

Requisition for special meeting to discuss the motion was handed over to the authorities at the civic body a week ago. The requisition was signed by councillors Gurpreet Kaur Jaggie, Harbans Kaur, Bhag Singh Bhagga, Khushi Mohammad and Jiwan Singh.

The councillors had alleged that the council chief had been ignoring their suggestions that further led to unhygienic conditions in a major part of the town.

Abdul Gaffar, former minister and then SAD in charge of the constituency, had persuaded the councillors to elect Usha Sood, the president of the council unanimously around three years ago.

Though everything went smoothly for some time, some of the councillors began feeling ignored and started accusing the chief of adopting partisan attitude towards development of the town.

The supporters of the president, on the other hand, had maintained that Sood had been doing her best for the development of the town, but some councillors were opposing her, as she had not succumbed to their pressure on various issues.

Councilor Ravinder Puri, leading group of councillors supporting Sood, said those demanding her ouste had changed their mind when Iqbal Jhoondan assured them that developmental projects would be started soon in their respective wards.



Orientation programme for parents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 13
With a view to encourage the holistic development and all-round growth of children, Don Bosco Global School, Ludhiana, organised an orientation programme for parents in collaboration with XSeed idescoveri. “XSeed” is a concept which essentially encourages a child to understand the concept of learning.

It lays stress on experiential learning. The aim of the programme is that every child is prefect within. Every child is unique, natural and an active learner. All learning has to go through four stages to experience, to observe, to analyse and to act.

The workshop organised on the premises of the school received a positive response from parents and students of classes nursery to VII.

Vijay Pal Singh conducted the workshop and answered all the queries of the parents.

Handwriting contest

A handwriting competition was held at Government Middle School College. The contest was held under the supervision and guidance of trainer Mandeep Singh. Students of Class VIII participated. The winners of the competition were declared on the basis of cursive and neat handwriting.



Scooter rally to mark Ambedkar Jayanti
‘Dr Ambedkar empowered the oppressed’
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, April 13
Activists of the Bhartiya Valmiki Adi Dharam Samaj (BVADS) today took out a scooter rally to pay tributes to Dr BR Ambedkar, father of the Indian Constitution, on the eve of his birth anniversary.

The national president of BVADS Dr DP Khosla flagged off the rally from Ghumar Mandi, and it passed through Fountain Chowk, Jagraon Bridge, Railway Station, Clock Tower Chowk, Old Sabzi Mandi Chowk, Chhawni Mohalla and Salem Tabri to culminate at Jalandhar Bypass Chowk where hundreds of party workers bathed the statue of Ambedkar in milk and offered floral tributes.

The scooter rally was accorded rousing welcome by the city residents, shopkeepers and market associations, who had put up welcome gates and organised "langars" (community feast) all along the route. Addressing the rally, Khosla and district convener Ajay Chuahan recalled the huge contribution of Ambedkar in framing the Constitution of the country, with specific reference to according special status to members of the Dalit community. "Dr Ambedkar's role in empowerment of the oppressed, deprived and exploited the Dalit community has no parallel in history," they said.



Rs 87 lakh sanctioned for Detwal village

Mullanpur Dakha, April 13
Manpreet Singh Ayali, chairman, Zila Parishad, Ludhiana, inaugurated projects worth Rs 87 lakh at Detwal village and distributed grants worth Rs 40 lakh to the civic bodies of Detwal and Chhajjewal villages.

He said buildings and structures would be completed with Rs 100 lakh, potable water storage tank at Rs 37.48 lakh. Rs 25 lakh had been sanctioned for a new road from Detwal to Birmi Canal. Foundation stones for all these projects, including a pond, were laid.

Later, Ayali presented cheques for Rs 30 lakh to office-bearers of Chhajjewal village civic body. — OC



Baisakhi time in schools

Everest School

Baisakhi festival was organised at Everest Public Senior Secondary School, Moti Nagar, Ludhiana.

Rajinder Sharma, president, Association of the PSEB Affiliated Schools, Punjab, (Regd) was the chief guest.

A fancy dress competition was also organised. Children presented a colourful eye catching programme of songs and dance.

Students came in their traditional Punjabi dresses and performed giddha and bangra.

Rajinder Sharma said the school has played a significant role in the development of the area, particularly in spreading education among the tiny-tots by using play-way methods.

He told the students about the importance of the day and how on this day. He said Baisakhi festival had tremendous religious significance, as it was on this day in 1699 that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, laid the foundation of Panth Khalsa.

Principal Asha Sharma said Baisakhi also marks the beginning of the harvesting time.

Prizes and sweets were distributed among tiny-tots. Principal said appropriate steps would be taken for the development of the school and to spread education.

MGM Public School

A fanfare of exuberant activities marked the Baisakhi celebration at MGM Public School. A special assembly was conducted by the students in which they gave a beautiful and promising message through spectacular speeches about the importance of Baisakhi.

Virtues of celebrating the festival, including the historical element were highlighted by the students.

The school director Ashok Kumar Setia congratulated the budding scholars and told them about the sacrifices of the martyrs.

BCM School

The commencement of Samvat year was celebrated with zeal and fervour on the school premises.

The young children of primary section came attired in beautiful Punjabi dresses. The children were told about the establishment of Khalsa Panth and Jallianwala Bagh massacre. The day holds great importance not only for every Punjabi, but for every Sikh, as it was on this day that the Sikh religion came into existence.

Principal Dr Vandna Shahi congratulated the students on the New Year and said that such days were important to make students aware about the cultural heritage.

Lovely Lotus School

Standing under the shade of a Guava tree and dressed up like a rural folk, students of Lovely Lotus School enjoyed Baisakhi with fervour.

To give them a feel of the rural life, the Guava tree was decorated with Tote Chirian made of cloth by rural girls.

In the similar fashion, strings made of colourful left over rags and other materials decorated the tree.

Every thing colourful, desi and of the open air in the rural areas attracted the little children. Sheaves of wheat were put in a basket and grains that come out of them were shown to them.

Students danced to the tunes of bhangra and enjoyed swings.

Shifaly International School

Baisakhi festival was celebrated at Shifaly International School. Cultural programme was the main attraction.

“Jalliawala Bagh massacre” was depicted through a drama, which was directed by Neelam, head of Hindi department Simarjeet told about the relevance of Basakhi. A group of girls presented giddha.

DCM Presidency School

Baisakhi was celebrated with fervour at DCM Presidency School, Ludhiana.

Tiny tots of nursery and Class I came in adorned in all hues of yellow to mark the occasion.

The children of Class VIII put up a special assembly celebrating the joy and happiness of the festival.

A short prayer song was followed by a speech by Mohammad Kaif, who highlighted the importance of the festival.

A short play brought forward the importance of a farmer. The play showed a farmer, who educates his son and the son founds his future in the village itself by integrating the latest farming techniques into his father’s age old farming thereby lending a new image to the agricultural filed.

The dance number “Desh Mera Rangeela” followed by a foot tapping bhangra marked the end of the function. Amita Mittal, school principal, congratulated the children for putting up the wonderful show and motivated them to take a lesson from the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. — TNS

Students of Pinnacle Institute of Fashion Technology prepare for the harvest festival ahead of Baisakhi; and (right) girls perform during a cultural programme at Green Land School in Ludhiana on Wednesday
Students of Pinnacle Institute of Fashion Technology prepare for the harvest festival ahead of Baisakhi; and (right) girls perform during a cultural programme at Green Land School in Ludhiana on Wednesday. Tribune photos: Inderjeet Verma

Celebrations begin

Sahnewal/Doraha: Tagore International Senior Secondary School celebrated Baisakhi with pomp and show here today. All students were attired in colourful dresses. Principal Swati Aneja graced the occasion.

The programme was marked by various cultural activities. Students were told about the importance of the festival.

Mehandi, dance and salad-making contests were held for girls and turban tying and hair style contest for boys, respectively.

Prizes were distributed to the winners. Principal Swati Aneja stressed upon the importance of folk culture and its fading glory in times of modernity. She highlighted the need to imbibe those cultural values. — OC



Athletics meet from today

Ludhiana, April 13
The National Sports Meet for the Blind will be organised at the Guru Nanak Stadium, Ludhiana, from April 14 to 16.

These games are being organised by the Punjab Sports Association for the Blind. The events in the game include track (100, 200, 400 and 800 meters) throw events (discus, shot put and javelin), long jump and high jump. Several foundations are taking up the cause and one among them is a team of the Cheema Foundation Trust. — TNS



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