L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Policewoman commits suicide
 Was on night duty when she took the extreme step in police station; probe under way
Gurminder Singh Grewal

Samrala, January 17
A woman Head Constable, in charge of the women helpline at the Samrala police station, committed suicide by hanging herself from an iron grill in the police station under mysterious circumstances. The deceased , Amarjit Kaur (51), is survived by her husband and two children.

The working of the women helpline in the police station has come under the scanner. The helpline was set up in the police station only two weeks ago on the directions of the state government.

Head Constable Amarjit Kaur was first the in charge of this helpline. She was on night duty last night. At about 8 am today, when munshi Balwinder Singh went to her office, he found the room closed. When he opened the door, he found her hanging from an iron grill.

He reported the matter to the SHO and the DSP, who informed her family. The postmortem was conducted after recording the statements of her son and husband.

Khanna SSP Jatinder Singh Aulakh visited the incident site. He said Amarjit Kaur was under depression. He said her first husband had committed suicide in 2000 after which she got married again and was living happily with her husband and children.

He said a magisterial inquiry had been initiated and the police was trying to ascertain the real cause behind her death. He said no suicide note was recovered from the scene. He said the crime spot was videographed. He said her body was handed over to her family after a postmortem examination.

The SSP said last night she was the only woman police official on duty in the police station.

He said the matter was being investigated and they were waiting for the postmortem report and the magisterial inquiry report.


transportation of goods
Railways helps Excise Dept curb tax evasion
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
With the railway authorities extending a helping hand to the Excise and Taxation Department, it has managed to check evasion of VAT and other taxes by the "peti mafia" that was thriving in the city. The mobile wing of the department claims to have controlled such cases by 95 per cent.

Excise officials confiscate goods from the railway station in Ludhiana.
Excise officials confiscate goods from the railway station in Ludhiana. A file photo

The Northern Railway had extended cooperation around four months ago after which the department was successful in curbing massive evasion of VAT and other taxes.

Manufactured goods worth crores were allegedly sent out of the city without proper invoices and payment of taxes.

"We have been able to curtail the peti mafia as the railway authorities have plugged all unauthorised entries points to the railway parcel office and now vehicles carrying parcels are allowed to enter only through the main gate of the goods office. Since now the access to the parcel office is only through one entry point, we carry out inspection of documents and packages before the consignments enter the railway premises," said Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner Inderjit Singh.

Earlier, officials of the department had to run around several unguarded entry points to the railway complex near Society Cinema, the bylanes near Deepak Cinema Road and the railway goods shed on the Old Court Road where operators of the peti mafia had easy access to the parcel office.

Operators of the peti mafia collect goods from traders and manufacturers, arrange for their transportation to the parcel office and book and load packages on trains. They take fee per package. For incoming packages as well, the network provides similar facilities to the consignees.



Revenue asst, clerk suspended
 Failed to provide information under the RTI Act 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
District Revenue Assistant (DRA) Surinder Singh and a clerk in his office, Paramjit Singh, have been suspended by Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari for failing to provide information to an applicant under the Right to Information Act.

The DRA and the clerk were suspended as they failed to provide information, for which two warnings had been issued to them. As they failed to provide information within the stipulated time, the commission summoned Neeru Katyal, Public Information Officer (PIO), to Chandigarh.

ADC (General) Neeru Katyal said Surinder Singh and Paramjit Singh had been suspended by the Deputy Commissioner on January 15.

According to sources, some information was to be provided to an applicant, Gopal Monga, regarding some land allottment. On December 4, 2012, State Information Commissioner BC Thakur passed an order that the information be provided failing which the ADC would have to appear personally before the commission. The ADC (G) reportedly told the Deputy Commissioner that the DRA and the clerk had stated that the file had been lost. The DC reportedly summoned both employees on January 4 and warned them to locate the file within seven days. When they failed to find the file, Tiwari suspended them and informed the State Information Commissioner about it.

Now, the State Information Commissioner has given two months' time to locate the file. A committee comprising the Superintendent (Revenue) and the Suprintendent (General) has been formed by the DC to locate the file.



Rs 60,000 looted at gunpoint

Ludhiana, January 17
An amount of Rs 60,000 has allegedly been looted from a father-son duo, who do timber business at Kirpal Nagar.

The victim, Chander Mohan, and his son were sitting at their workplace in the Kirpal Nagar area when five youths came there on two motorcycles. Three of the youths entered the premises and asked the father-son duo to hand over cash to them. When they resisted, one of the youths took out his pistol and threatened them. They took Rs 60,000 from them and fled. — TNS



Om Puri recalls journey to reel world
Minna Zutshi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Ludhiana, a city on the cusp of modernity, may be a new metro city bursting at its seams. But for veteran actor Om Puri, it's a city steeped in decades-old memories. He last visited the city 20 years ago, when his brother was still staying here. Puri's memory is a blur when it comes to the name of the localities where his family stayed. "My father did not own a house. Staying in a rented accommodation meant frequent shifts to different localities," he reasons out.

Puri, who's in the city for the presentation of Punjabi play "Teri Amrita", recalls his journey to the reel world. While studying at Khalsa College in Patiala, he worked part time as lab assistant. Those were the days when theatre happened to him. He was offered Rs 150 per month to work with Harpal Tiwana's theatre group - an offer he took up eagerly. It meant an additional monthly income of Rs 25, as his monthly remittance as lab assistant was only Rs 125. It was from here that the reel journey started. During all these years, the actor has kept switching between films and theatre. With "Teri Amrita", he's back to theatre after more than two decades.

Incidentally, for actress Divya Dutta, "Teri Amrita" (to be staged in Ludhiana under the auspices of the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam) is the first Punjabi play in her repertoire of theatre experience.

The actress, who's from Ludhiana, keeps visiting her hometown to keep the ties with her "roots" intact. The city has been privy to her reel journey. Defending the film industry on the charge that gender-insensitive Hindi films play a role in encouraging violence against women, the actress says that the reel and the real do not encroach on each other's territory. "It's not that you watch a scene on celluloid and you go out and actually enact it."

"Films are a fantasy world. They take you away from reality. What's important is how you perceive the films and how you absorb their content," she adds in a spirited defence of the film industry. 



PAU students lay siege to VC’s office
Charanjit Singh Teja
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Students of Agriculture College of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) continued their stir against the move to merge their batches and laid a siege to the Vice-Chancellor’s office today.

The student boycotted the classes on the fourth day and sat outside the Vice-Chancellor's office by tying black ribbons on their heads. When the students led by Punjab Agricultural University Students Association (PAUSA) reached outside the VC’s office to besiege him, the staff of the university locked the doors from inside. Students sat outside and office premises and raise slogans against PAU authorities.

During this protest, Vice-Chancellor, Baldev Singh Dhillon, came on the spot and urged the students to join the classes. He clarified again that he would not withdraw the decision.

Parminder Gujar, president PAUSA said, "We also want that students join the classes as the study has been suffering due to strike. The university authorities have to think about the future of students. We will not take our steps back till the authorities do not rollback its decision of merger of the batches."

Talking about the further action, Gujar said, "If the University authorities do not rollback its decision, we will have no other option to call closure of all the university colleges from Monday. We will add all other issues of PAU students as university failed to provide the hostels to the students."

PAUSA president alleged that the PAU authorities invited the Prime Minister and President of India on campus. But he failed to conduct any interactive session with the students. President of India interacted with the private school students in the city but not with the PAU students.

Meanwhile, an official from PAU revealed that according to the university rules, strict action could be taken against the students who are agitating.



Rain brings down mercury
Charanjit Singh Teja
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Cloudy weather brought the mercury level down in the region and it was witnessed a chilly weather in the city. The warmth of lohri days due to lukewarm sunlight has been disappeared in the city and residents facing the cold days again.

The city witnessed a dip in maximum temperature due to cloudy weather. The meteorology department of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) recorded maximum temperature 19.0 degree Celsius, which is 2 degree less than the previous day.

However, the there was a rise was recorded in the minimum temperature as the temperature was recorded at 9.5 degree Celsius. The minimum temperature was recorded 6.2 degree Celsius on Wednesday.

Dr KK Gill, Agrometerologist at PAU said, "According to the weather predictions cloudy weather will continue for the next two days. There are the chances of light showers on Friday. The rain is required in these days. It will help in increasing the temperature."

"Today, when I woke up I saw drizzling for a few minutes. We were feeling respite from the foggy and cloudy weather from last one week. This cloudy morning bring the chill again," said Kamal, a resident of Mahraj Nagar.

Gurmej Singh, a farmer said, "We are expecting showers in next some days. The rain will prove helpful for the good yield for wheat. It also helps to grow the fodder."



Diesel price hike worries consumers
Manav Mander
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
The speculation about the rise in diesel prices from midnight after the deregulation of diesel prices by the government kept the people worried throughout the day. It was speculated that the price of diesel would be increased by Rs 3 while the speculations also made round that the price of diesel will be increased every month by 50 paise.

Due to grim power situation in the state, people are largely dependent upon gensets for power. With increase in the prices of diesel, the cost of power generation through gensets will also increase.

"It is really discouraging for knitwear industry that instead of providing things at low prices the government is imposing extra burden with this hike," said Darshan Dawar, president of Knitwear Club. "It is the second consecutive hike in diesel prices. I recently switched to diesel car. But now it seems the prices of petrol and diesel will be at par. The hike is too much to absorb and my household budget will be disturbed once again," said Jatin Sharma, a bank employee.

"With this increment, the price of fuel for the transportation will become costlier. Punjab state is already facing the problem of power shortage and the industrialists have to depend upon the generators. As a result the other input charges will also increase and it will be difficult for the industry to survive and compete in the global market as well as will be unable to cater the needs of the domestic market as industry already has to countenance various problems and now this hike will work as a fuel add to the fire," added Narinder Miglani, general secretary of Knitwear Club.

Although state provides continuous power supply to the agriculture sector but still 70 per cent of the production is done with the help of gensets. "This will lead to an increase in prices of food grains which will be passed on to the consumers," added Harbans Singh, a farmer from Jodhan.



Varsity to have centre for wildlife studies

Ludhiana, January 17
Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, in a recently held meeting of Academic Council, has announced to have established a Centre of Wild-life Studies and Research.

The centre is located in the College of Veterinary Science under the administrative control of Dean, College of Veterinary Science. The centre will have all teaching and research facilities with well established diagnostic laboratory set up, record keeping mechanisms for digitalising of the data of wild life diseases, computerised laboratory and an annexe for imparting training to wild health specialists. It will also provide specialist services to address problems or exigencies emanating from the zoo. The centre started functioning today with Dr Kirti Dua, Professor and former Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine, joining as in-charge of the centre.

After taking the charge, Dr Dua elaborated that presently, there was no comprehensive specialised centre to address the problems faced by wild and zoo animals in Punjab. The University experts often visit the zoo premises for therapeutic or surgical interventions and also provide regular consultations for better redressal and assistance to state wild life agencies in areas of mortality investigations, disease preventions and management problems. The establishment of a Wild-life Centre in GADVASU will help to solve problems of wild and zoo animals which also suffer from myriad of diseases having zoonotic potential.

Besides, such animals were more vulnerable to poaching problems due to avarice mind-set of hunting public. — TNS



Stone of treatment plant laid
 Bahadurke Road dyeing cluster takes a big leap in pollution control
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 17
The City Mayor, Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria, along with SAD-B legislator Ranjit Singh Dhillon, laid the foundation stone of a state-of-the-art common effluent treatment plant (CETP), to be built at a cost of Rs 148 crore, at a cluster of dyeing units on the Bahadurke Road here today.

The Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Bhagat Chuni Lal, who was to perform the stone-laying ceremony, could not make it to the city due to other pressing commitments.

Speaking on the occasion, both Gohalwaria and Dhillon stressed the need for reducing water and air pollution, which had assumed alarming proportions in the city. They said industrial units, especially in the red category (which discharge highly toxic effluents), ought to consider it as their social responsibility to cut down the pollution levels in their respective units to the lowest possible limits.

Tarun Bawa Jain, chairman of the special purpose vehicle (SPV) formed by the Bahadurke Textile and Knitwear Association for the setting up of the CETP, said the plant, with a capacity to treat and recycle 15 million litres of toxic effluents per day, was being constructed in an area of 4 acres. It is expected to become operational within one year.

The CETP, the first of its kind in the country, will have 24-hour power backup with a captive power generation of 10 MW for the member units. Not only this, the plant would produce steam as a byproduct, which would be supplied to the dyeing units through two boilers of 30 tonne capacity each. Steam is used in the dyeing process.

"Once the plant becomes operational, the dyeing units in the cluster will not have to put to use boilers installed on their premises. Similarly, the power generators will also become redundant, and the dyeing factories would save a lot of money spent on production of steam and electricity," he added.

Ashok Makkar, president of the Bahdurke Road Dyeing Association, Harish Rai Dhanda, former legislator, Gurdeep Singh Neetu and Inderjit Singh Gill, both councillors, Karunesh Garg, superintending engineer, Punjab State Pollution Control Board and AS Sekhon, Zonal Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, were also present at the function.



Breach in Sirhind Canal averted

Mandi Ahmedgarh, Jan 17
A major tragedy was averted when the officials of the Canal Department noticed a 12-foot-deep pit dug up along the banks of the Sirhind Canal, near the Jagera bridge, near here, late in the evening today. They got it plugged before it could lead to a breach.

It is suspected that farmers had dug up the pit siphon off water to their fields. The Dehlon police, led by SHO Harbans Singh, initiated a probe into the matter.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Gill Gurpreet Singh Sikand said the officials of the Canal Department, Damandeep Singh and Kulwinder Singh, had informed the authorities that miscreants had damaged the banks of the Sirhind Canal between pillar number 55000 and 56000 in the afternoon. — OC



All set for Pulse Polio campaign
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
To eradicate polio in the country, the first national round of the Pulse Polio campaign of this year will be started from January 20. It will conclude on January 24 and during the drive all the children up to the age of five years will be administered polio drops. This was disclosed by the Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, Dr Subhash Batta, while addressing a meeting of the District Task Force at the Bachat Bhawan here today.

Dr Batta said: "During this four-day campaign, 5,75,000 children (3,70,000 from the urban areas and 20,5000 from the rural areas) will be administered polio drops. A total of 2,426 teams, apart from 62 mobile and 100 transit teams, will be supervised by 461 officials.

The Civil Surgeon appealed to all the officers and NGOs to successfully complete this campaign. District Immunisation Officer Sanjeev Hans, District Education Officer (Secondary) Paramjeet kaur, District Development and Panchayat Officer Amardip Singh Bains, district programme officer Rupinder Kaur, social worker Krishan Lal Malik and senior medical officers were also present.



Workers protest contract system
Jaswant Shetra

Jagraon, January 17
Members of the Jagraon unit of the All-India Food and Allied Workers Union held a protest at the office of the State Food and Supplies Department here today. The agitating members raised slogans against the state and union governments for not fulfilling their demands.

Addressing the protesters, president of the union Avtar Singh stated that the contract system for lifting, loading and unloading of grain from grain markets and godowns of the state-owned agencies had been causing massive financial losses to the labour class. While they do all the difficult work, the major chunk of their income goes into contractors' pockets.

"At present thousands of labourers perform handling work at different centres of agencies like Markfed, Pungrain, Punsup, Punjab State Godown Corporation and Punjab Food Agro Limited. Labourers for such state-owned agencies are hired under a contract system and only a few dozen contractors take away a major chunk of the income earned through the hard work done by labourers," said a member of the working committee of the union, member Gurmail Singh.

The union has demanded from the state government that the contract system for hiring labour for these state-owned agencies should be abolished and they should be hired directly and paid for work.

Raj Mistri Mazdoor Union

Members of Jagraon unit of the Punjab Raj Mistri and Mazdoor Union held a protest on the Raikot road here. They also took out a march till the Jagraon SDM's Office. The members were led by Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) district president Darshan Singh Obroi.

The union submitted a memorandum to SDM Gurmit Singh.

The major demands of the protesters include change in the sand mining policy, increase in the daily wages up to Rs 300 for labourers and Rs 500 for masons, fixing minimum monthly wages of skilled workers up to Rs 20,000 and implementing the orders issued by the Labour Court in 1996.

According to the union, a large number of labourers have been rendered jobless due to the present sand mining policy. 



Secy apprised of cycle industry woes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Gurmeet Singh Kular, president of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, had a meeting with Karan Avtar Singh, Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce and Labour. Kular apprised Karan Avtar Singh of the difficulties being faced by the industries.

During the meeting, Kular said: "Getting approval from the Site Appraisal Committee is a cumbersome and time-consuming process. This is the main hindrance to the growth of the small-scale industry". He requested the prior approval from the site appraisal committee should not be maid mandatory in the designated/specified industrial areas.

Kular demanded that Zoning Plan should not be implemented on the existing industrial units and the very old buildings.



Farmers seek hike in MSP of wheat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 17
Farmers' unions today demanded a hike in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat and other crops during a state-level convention held at Punjabi Bhawan here. The Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), Sidhupur, and the Punjab Committee of the Sarb Hind Kisan Shaba opposed the "anti-farmer" policies of the Centre and the state government on the occasion.

During the convention, speakers demanded that the government should announce an MSP of Rs 1,800 per quintal for wheat. They also demanded a hike in the price of sugarcane and a rollback in the hike in prices of diesel, power and fertilisers.

Bhupinder Singh, general secretary of the All-India Kisan Sabha, said, "Farmers in the state are facing an agrarian crisis as the policies of the government are against them. The Punjab Government is emphasising on diversification, but is not providing the MSP for other crops. The government should ensure proper marketing of crops to make diversification a reality."

Jasmel Singh, a farmer leader, said, "Farmers have been committing suicide in the state due to poverty. Farming is no more viable due to the high prices of diesel, power and fertilisers. The government needs to revise its policies and make these farmer-friendly."

"We will hold protest demonstrations from February 1 to 15 at the district level and from February 28 farmers' unions will hold block-level protests against the anti-farmer policies of the government," said Gurchet Singh Basi, a union leader. 



Health staff told to pull up socks

Ludhiana, January 17
The Civil Surgeon, Dr Subhash Batta, has asked the employees of the Health Department to pull up their socks to complete the targets of the family planning programme by the end of this financial year.

Dr Batta, who recently visited primary health centres and community health centres of the department in the peripheral areas, including Jagroan and Payal, said: "By now we have completed 70 per cent targets of the family planning programme in the district. While two and half months are still remaining of the current financial year, we are yet to complete the remaining 30 per cent targets. Keeping this in view, I have instructed the rural area health centres to complete their targets within the stipulated time." — TNS



Con man held while trying to dupe migrant labourer
Jaswant Shetra

Jagraon, January 17
The Jagraon police today arrested a con man for allegedly trying to dupe a migrant labourer of Rs 15,000 in a local bank. As per the information, a migrant labourer, Suresh Kumar, who hails from Bihar and currently works as a farm labourer at Pona village near Jagraon, had visited a local bank to send some money to his family in Bihar.

As there was a huge rush in the bank and a long queue of people was in place before money depositing counter, Suresh Kumar also stood in the queue. While he was waiting for his turn, another person who was also standing in the queue approached him and showed him a packet telling him that there were Rs 1 lakh in the packet and that he was also waiting for his turn to deposit the money.

Suresh Kumar said the alleged conman suggested him to take turns for standing in the queue to avoid tiring. He also handed over his packet to Suresh and asked him that he will join the queue in his place after some time and then sat on a chair near the queue.

Suresh further informed that when his turn was nearing, the conman approached him again and asked him to return his packet and also handed over his money to get it deposited. But Suresh said he was aware of such kind of duping incidents in the banks during the past and he told the whole matter to a bank employee.

Following this, the bank employees held the conman and called the police after which he was handed over to the police.

Confirming the development, SHO Jagraon, Mohammad Jamil, stated that the police have registered a case against the conman under Sections 420, 511 of the IPC on the statement given by Suresh Kumar and arrested him.

The accused con man has been identified as Ratnesh Kumar Sahni, who is also a migrant from Bihar. When the police searched the packet recovered from the accused con man, the police found plane papers in the packet, added SHO.



Watchman found murdered

Samrala, January 17
Jarnail Singh (55), who worked as a village chowkidar, was murdered with sharp weapons near Sihala village last night.

Ranjit Singh, son of the deceased, said his father performed duty as a watchman at Todarpur village. Last evening, he went to Samral to get some medicine but did not return. They started searching for him and spotted his body on a bridge, near Sihala village.

The SSP, Khanna, said the police was working on different theories as the watchman's bicycle was recovered from a sugarcane field. — OC



Jarkhar Sports Festival concludes
Anil Datt
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, January 17
The 27th Annual Sports Festival at Jarkhar village about 20 km from here on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla concluded here today. The four-day sports extravaganza, popularly known as the Mini-Rural Olympics was organised by the Mata Sahib Kaur Sports Club, supported by the area residents with the help of sports lovers, settled in other countries.
A kabaddi match in progress between Sierra Leone and Kalakh at Jarkhar village, near Ludhiana, on Thursday.
A kabaddi match in progress between Sierra Leone and Kalakh at Jarkhar village, near Ludhiana, on Thursday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

On the final day, keen tussles were witnessed and a large number of spectators turned up despite chilly and uncertain weather to enjoy every bit of festival.

The star attraction of the concluding day was famous Punjabi singer, Diljeet Dosanjh, who mesmerised the audience.

In hockey (senior men), Border Security Force (BSF), Jalandhar, blanked Indo-Tibet Border Police XI 3-0 to lift the title while this honour in the junior boy's section was bagged by Jarkhar Academy who overpowered Kila Raipur XI 'A' 8-5.

However, the final in the junior girl's section, played between Shahbad Markanda Academy and Government College, Ludhiana, turned out to be a mismatch as the former came out triumphant 16-5 to lay their hands on the winner's trophy.

In kabaddi (academies), Ambitey Aman Club from Hathoor village quelled a strong resistance from Ranjit Friends Club of Dhatoheera before getting better off the latter 27-25.

In the District Handball Championship, held during this festival, Ludhiana proved too good for Faridkot whom they drubbed 24-15 to clinch the title in the boy's section while Ropar defeated Ludhiana comfortably 17-7 to romp home victorious in the girl' section.

In basketball (girls), Government College, Ludhiana, faced a little challenge from Jalandhar as the former wrapped up the final 62-45 and in the boy's section, Ludhiana Academy defeated Ludhiana district 80-64 to stamp their superiority. Former Punjab Cabinet Minister, Hira Singh Gabria, distributed the prizes to the winners.

The organisers honoured famous Punjabi singer, Pammi Bai, and sports promoter, Teja Singh Dhaliwal, secretary, Punjab Basketball Association for outstanding contribution in their respective fields.



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