Remembering Amrita

You see, I thought to myself for a very long time...I must write about the journalist Amrita Chowdhary. She left us in a sudden dreadful road mishap on the 21st October 2012. It was a tragedy as we lost a brave journalist as well as a good human being.
I wanted to write a piece about her in my blogs, but somehow I was procrastinating due to laziness or fatigue or a lack of words to describe a talent - a personality, whatever the reason may be, but after around four months of her untimely demise a sudden instinct made me write about her today.
I was crossing the road in front of Sri Durga Mata Mandir near Jagraon Bridge, as it is my route to reach my office. I saw the lion face gate of the shrine and suddenly Amrita Chowdhary struck in my mind.
I can very well recall the head line of the story (Lalaji, it is an enchrochment) that Amrita had written in local edition of the Indian Express in 2001. She had filed the story about the encroachment made by the Mandir Committee. The Municipal Corporation had demolished that encroachment and the disciples were fuming over the issue. Former Member of Parliament, Late Lala Lajpat Rai was the then head of the management committee of the shrine. Lala ji had made some statements against the action taken by the MC and on very next day Amrita’s story was appeared in the newspaper.
I was working for vernaculars at the time. The story nailed itself to my mind and that’s why I can recall the story ...word for word even after 11 long years.
I met her for the last time face to face in Jagraon SSP in May or June last year. We both had gone there to attend a press conference. She was asking me about my experience as I had recently shifted from vernacular media to an English newspaper.
I had replied, though I was enjoying working for an English newspaper, but i felt like I was being boycotted.  Some of my good friends had started avoiding me suddenly (can’t understand why, but don’t want to discuss it here). Well, Amrita smiled and said, don’t worry, it is yet another phase of life, except it. Then she said calmly, ‘koi na tu mainu phone kar leya kar je tere dost tainu nahi bulande’ (don’t worry, you can call me if you feel like that your friends keep their distance from you.)
That was the last conversation I had face to face with Amrita.
Amrita, today I want to talk to you, tell me what number I need to dial…


Perform your duty and be a hero

In my childhood the Super Heroes like Superman, Spider Man and Indian versions like Super Commando Dhruva, Nagraj, Doga etc fascinated me and I dearly wished to be one of them, like every child of my age. I longed to do extra ordinary stuff - flying like superman, stop a running train with my bare hands, pin the bad guys at top of the tallest tower of the city. I wanted to be the real hero of the city.

As I grew up with the time I realized super hero action could be the peculiar fantasy of a child, but it was not a realistic aim. I used to think about doing something extra ordinary to grab the attention of people that would elevate me to the status of a hero overnight.
But my misapprehension about becoming a caped crusader, a lone hero performing extra ordinary work etc quickly disappeared with the recent episode of the episode of a young IPS officer Swapan Sharma (Assistant Police Commissioner of Traffic, Ludhiana) who had become a real life hero of my city. The young officer was extremely fair and square and devoted to his duty and vision. 
He initiated tow-away drive in the city to punish reckless drivers who used to create problems by parking their cars carelessly anywhere on the road. Though the tow-away drive was criticized by some, it was hugely appreciated by the masses. His initiative made Ludhiana a safer place to drive in. He busted gangs who roamed fearlessly and executed misdeeds by using political connections and by flashing money as bribes to stop any legal actions.

Swapan Sharma took a strong stand, and made these offences count. Initiating a drive against assembled and illegal three-wheelers, a major headache for the city, was another feather in his cap.

What Sharma did, was not one bit 'extra ordinary' - but part of his role as an honest policeman which he performed to perfection. He became a hero, and the city folk were jubilant that someone was finally enforcing the law. People viewed his actions as extra ordinary. Rarely do bureaucrats (or govt. officials in any rank) perform their actual duties and take any initiative, or if they do, they quickly give up before the will of corrupt politicians higher up in the food chain.

It is determination of the young IPS and commitment towards his duty that he became a real life hero for the city in days. In September people were shocked as his transfer orders landed in the city police headquarters. The news has evoked a response in the residents of this city who love and admire Swapan Sharma for his conduct and courage. The official pages of Ludhiana police and Ludhiana traffic police on facebook were flooded with messages of people that want him to remain in the city to carry out his good work.

Fortunately Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister was in the city on that particular day. Several delegations of city denizens pleaded before the CM for a rethink on the decision of transferring the young officer. The CM graciously nodded and immediately cancelled the transfer orders.

Well, news of his transfer had also pinched me a little. I wanted him to remain and to continue reforming the dilapidated condition of traffic control, to improve conditions for everyone who lives and commutes in Ludhiana.

As far my memory goes, in my 12 years of journalism I have rarely filed any news item personally appreciating the good conduct of a cop, but being a regular critic I do appreciate good work when I see it. In September 2012, I wrote an article in the local pages of The Hindustan Times about his ‘ordinary’ extra ordinary work and gave him a moniker ‘the tow-away man’. Long may this superhero 'tow away man' continue to tow away the negative and corrupt elements of policing in my city, and may I have many more opportunities to salute his courage, good sense, and honest integrity.


Jaspal Bhatti - my family member and that of the entire nation

I rarely find time to pen down my thoughts or should I say I prefer to kill time by playing games on my laptop instead of giving shape to my thoughts. The fact is I get mentally drained after beating the keyboard for atleast 5 hours daily to file news, thanks to the police and criminal elements of Ludhiana. I do love to write but never realise my plans in the evenings because of tiredness. I am composing this piece sitting at my desk in my office. I want to write about the sudden demise of Mr Jaspal Bhatti that has left us all in shock. Many eminent writers have written about him and I have read plenty articles about the satirist. Will it matter if I write about him? I asked myself several times and finally I started writing this piece about him. I know it does not matter if I write about him holding the rank of a reporter. But somehow, I want to express my own grief and love towards Sardar of jokes and satire. Well I did get a chance to interact with Sardar Bhatti in 2010 in a hotel. He was in Ludhiana to select the cast for his next venture and he had called a press conference. I was working with a vernacular daily at the time. I reached the venue in time and saw Bhatti was preparing for the press conference. Some arrangements for the press conference were ongoing. Bhatti welcomed us and joked about his staff comparing them with our lazy system. I loved his way with words and to be honest I really wished the press conference would get delayed as I wanted a chance to spend more time with him. I wanted to talk to him about Jaspal Bhatti the man, and not just the news piece I was meant to be reporting on. When I posed some questions, he answered them with his honesty and his trademark comic touch. The press conference set was finally ready and he promised to give me time afterwards.I stared at the face that was entertaining us and making us laugh since my childhood. How simple and down to earth he was. “You seem to me like a cherished family member - I feel like I have seen you since I was a child,”I said to Sardar Bhatti. He replied genuinely that’s why you love me so much. “Yes, we all are one family,” Sardar Bhatti put his hand on my shoulders.Then he asked me about my background. He asked me where did I come from, and how many years was I in this profession etc. He complimented me and said I should try auditioning for TV serials and films. I smiled and said "yes ofcourse Bhatti Saab, I will do". Later, I requested a photo with him. He said sure and smiled towards the camera putting his hand around my waist. Click… clicks the camera sounds and he moved towards other scribes. "Bhatti Saab, I want some more time with you", I said. He smiled and replied, "yes do come at any time I am staying in hotel do come at any time". I got the sad news about his demise at around 6 am this Thursday. I used to sleep till 8.30 generally, but I left my bedside as soon as I heard the news. I was anxious and restless, feeling uncomfortable. I had been praying to God to add some more years to his life, but it seems God 'unheard' my pleas. A rumor that spread in late 2011 (largely due to social media) that the whole world would end in 2012 has stuck my mind. There was something true in the rumor, I thought. Even though the world is not finished but those that keep my world moving have left… Dara Singh, Rajesh Khanna, Shammi Kapoor, Jagjit SinghYash Chopra and now Jaspal Bhatti…


Sikh police officers who wear turbans cannot join firearms teams?

Sikh police officers who wear turbans cannot join firearms teams
, following a ruling from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

Officers can choose instead to wear a smaller head covering known as a patka, which will fit under a helmet.

The Acpo guidance follows consultations with the Home Office and a range of police associations representing Sikhs.

In 2009, a tribunal awarded £10,000 to a Sikh officer who was ordered to remove his turban during riot training.

The British Sikh Police Association asked for a clarification from Acpo following the award, and proposed a "ballistic turban" that would provide head protection.

Acpo opted against the ballistic turban approach but said the idea was worth "future exploration".

'No discrimination'

"The police service has a legal duty to consider the health and safety of staff at work and provide appropriate personal protective equipment to staff who are placed in high risk situations," said Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, Acpo's head of uniformed operations.

As a result, Sikh officers will only be permitted to engage in armed operations if they remove their turbans or wear the smaller patka head covering to permit the use of a helmet for protection.

Chief Constable Hughes said that wearing a patka was "a matter of choice for the police officer", adding that "Sikh officers who wear a turban will not be discriminated against if they choose not to perform firearms or higher-level public order duties".

'Treated with fairness'

Gurpal Virdi, office co-ordinator for the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association, welcomed the clarification.

"Supervising officers had no idea how to deal with Sikh officers before; there was no guidance," he told BBC News.

"Some Sikh officers were being discriminated against, especially in rural constabularies.

"The guidance now makes clear how Sikh officers should be treated with fairness."



Mohit and tarsem leads team media to win

Mohit and tarsem leads team media to win

Ludhiana: (7th feb 2010)
Wonderful batting by captain mohit khanna and tremendous bowling by spin bowler tarsem deogan leads team media to another victory here on Sunday in a 20-20 friendly cricket match against the ludhiana police eleven. the match was played at cricket ground of govt. college for boys ludhiana. Team media won this match by 40 runs. mohit scored a fifty, while tarsem scatterd four wickets. Spin bowler from police eleven DSP varinder singh brar also collect four wickets. tarsem and DSP brar declared man of the match jointly. Both teams played with true game spirit.
Captain of police eleven SSP Dr. Sukhchain singh gill won the toss and invited team media to bat. Team media loose nine wickets and set a target of 158 for police eleven in 20 overs. Face batsman mohit khanna and sunil gave a strong start to team media. mohit scored 55 runs with the help of one six and five fours. sunil scored 16 runs. Other successful batsman were neeraj manra and lehri. neeraj collect 20 runs with help of one six and a four. lehri contributes 16 runs in teams total.
DSP varinder brar collect 4 wickets.
Police eleven failed to follow the target. police eleven got all out on 117 runs in 14.5 overs. Captain of the team SSP Dr. sukhchain singh gill scored 15 runs. Ravinder contributes highest 24 runs. SHO Daljit singh khak (18), SP Snehdeep sharma (17) and gurwinder (16) also bat very well.
Tarsem deogan was the most successful bowler for media eleven. tarsem got four wickets and scatterd the middle order of police eleven. Police eleven was in strong position when spinners were introduced in bowling. Arshdeep samar collect two wickets with his off spin bowling and accompanied tarsem to send all the batsman of police eleven back to pavilion. neeraj manra claims two and ajit claims one wicket.
SSP Dr. Sukhchain singh gill congratulate team media for the victory. SSP announced a series of 20-20 matches between team media and police eleven. The others who enjoyed the match were SP (traffic) Rupinder singh, SP (headquarter) Harish kumar sharma, DSP Bhupinder singh, DSP Harmohan singh, DSP Parampal singh, DSP Harjinder singh, manager team media sunil dutt, inspector Maninder bedi, sub-inspector Beant juneja and sub-inspector Jarnail singh.


Sky is for birds

One of my friend send me this e-mail. i found this mail very touchy. one should aware about the nature, the sky is for birds.
The Manja (thread) of kites kills and injures many birds every year. Please don't fly kites and if you have to, please don't use glass manja.

Please pass this on to your friends. Together we can save many birds.

If you see a bird in trouble please report to the nearest animal shelter as early as possible.

The chinese Kite string is responsible for injuries and death of birds animals and even human beings.