Sunday, December 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



75,000 snatched from trader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The recent spurt in crime cases in the city continues as two unidentified scooter-borne youths snatched about Rs 75,000 from a cloth merchant in Krishna Nagar, Ghumar Mandi, here late last night. The cloth merchant, Mr Gehla Ram, was returning from his shop in Ghumar Mandi when the youths, one Sikh and the other a Hindu, blocked his way and snatched the bag containing the cash.

The youths also used force against the about 70-year-old victim but fortunately he escaped without any injuries. The youths with muffled faces ran away taking advantage of the dense fog. The cloth merchant or his relatives could not even follow them. The street in the colony was deserted as the markets closed early due to the fog.

Interestingly, Division No. 5 police station officials said the incident was of theft and not snatching. A police official said the cloth merchant had parked his scooter outside his house on which the bag was hung by a hook. He went in for few moments but found the bag missing when he came out.

However, Mr Chaman Lal, a son of the victim, told Ludhiana Tribune that the two youths were following his father from the market and forcibly stopped him in a deserted street near their house. He said they had told the true story to the police as it did not affect them if the youths had snatched or stolen the bag. He said the end result was that they had lost the money.

The snatching incident is the fourth in row in the city. The criminals seem to be striking at will even as the police has sounded a red alert in the city and its periphery. The police has claimed to have taken several security measures but none of it seems to be working. The senior police officers could not be contacted as they were busy in meetings called to assess the prevailing law and order situation and the means to control it.

Meanwhile, the police has failed to make any breakthrough in the recent crime incidents. Though in all the crime, two youths of almost similar description were involved, yet the police investigation has not made any headway about their identity. The last night's incident in a posh area is significant as the police always does patrolling in the area.



City witnesses increase in crime
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana December 29
Risk to life and property is highest in this city as is being claimed by the crime figures of the passing year. Keeping in tune with its image of being one of the most crime-prone areas of the region, the Ludhiana police district has witnessed a sharp increase in crime incidents in 2001.

Crime incidents in the beginning of the year gave this city a dubious image and the spurt in crime cases in the last week ensured that the year closed with this image.

The increase had been quite significant this year. Last year the combined crime incidents of Jagraon, Khanna and Ropar police districts in Ludhiana Range were more than the local district. But this year, the crime incidents occurring here were far more than the combined incidents of all three police districts.

The crime in Ludhiana witnessed a whopping 70 per cent increase. Contrary to the police claims that the crime was under control, the burglary, dacoity and theft incidents almost doubled whereas robbery incidents increased three-fold. Murders, attempt to murder, rape, poisoning, cheating and kidnapping, especially child kidnapping, witnessed a significant as well as disturbing rise also.

The rise in theft, burglary and dacoity incidents directly puts question mark on the efficiency of the Ludhiana police.

On the contrary, there had been only 3 per cent increase in crime in Jagraon police district, almost 4 per cent decline in Khanna and 8 per cent increase in crime in Ropar. The Ludhiana Range has witnessed 34 per cent increase in rise. Most of this is ‘thanks’ to Ludhiana police district. The Khanna, Jagraon and Ropar police district had a combined crime figure of 3,170, while Ludhiana had recorded 2,618 crime cases. This year, the combined figure of the three police districts was 329, whereas the Ludhiana police district alone registered 4,466 cases.

The Ludhiana police district, which comprises the city, Laddowal and Sahnewal areas continued to remain an incurable headache for the police. Despite the much-demanded change in guard, there had been no respite from criminals for the public. The mushrooming of several private security agencies in the city also indicated the lack of faith the public had in the police.

The year began with the infamous Avtar Singh murder case involving a former police cat Pinki and the situation turned grim with occurring of child kidnapping and sodomy cases one after the another. With the police taking lot of time to catch the culprits, dharnas and protests against it became common. The law and order situation in the city worsened to such an extent that the state government had to send DGP Punjab Sarbjit Singh and Chief Secretary Bikramjit Singh a couple of times to repose public’s faith in the police.

The then SSP, Mr Kuldip Singh, was transferred in July. The appointment of Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu made much promise but the final analysis of the crime stated that not much difference was made. While the police could claim that the ‘free registration policy’ was the main contributing factor in the increase in figures but the ground reality was that the crime had actually increased. The crime incidents like robbery, dacoity, burglary and theft, all increased. The free registration policy could cause rise in registration of hurt or minor crime cases but how could the police ignore the registration of the above said major crimes.

The year saw one of the most macabre crime stories. A police cop shot dead 6 of his family members before committing suicide in Ludhiana. A woman in love, murdered her two children, to clear the way for her marriage with her paramour. A criminal kidnapped and sodomised several children, belonging especially to the Rajasthani community, in March and April. Several unsolved cases of robbery and dacoity kept happening. The police busted a kidney racket, that became the main scandal of the year, but failed to act against the main accused.

In the end a sensational child killing, suspected to be the handiwork of a tantrik, remained unsolved. A Congress leader's murder in Samrala remained unsolved. Same was the fate of Aman Sood murder case in Khanna. The jagraon police achieved mixed success against the poppy husk and opium smugglers.



MC chief in soup over fake caste certificate
Our Correspondent

Amloh, December 29
Two-sided action has been initiated against President of the Municipal Council, Amloh, by the government. The secretary, local government, Punjab, has served a show-cause notice through Executive Officer to Mr Baldev Sedha, President, Municipal Council, Amloh, for his removal from the post. The statement of facts attached with the notice which was received here on Friday contained the allegations that Mr Sedha has got presidentship of the council, which was reserved for a Backward Caste person, by producing a fake certificate issued by Tehsildar, Amloh in November 1997. In fact he belonged to Suniar/Swarankar caste which did not fall in the B.C. category.

Elections in 11 wards of the Municipal Council were held in June last year. Mr Baldev Sedha was returned from Ward Number 3 a general category ward, while Mr Baldev Singh Aulukh, who belonged to Backward Caste was elected from Ward Number 2 reserved for a B.C. candidate, besides Ward Number 7 and 11 were reserved for female and male candidates of the Scheduled Castes. The remaining 8 wards were open for the general category candidates.

The Presiding Officer, Ms Raghbir Kaur Khehra, SDM, Bassi Pathana, holding the additional charge of Mr R.S. Jangoo, SDM, Amloh, who was on leave on that day, declared Mr Baldev Sedha elected on July 18, 2000, as President on the basis of B.C. certificate. Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, MLA, and Mr Baldev Singh Aulukh, councillor, raised objections against this and walked out from the meeting.

The Presiding officer made it a part of the proceedings, that legal action would be taken if the certificate was found to be illegal.

The legal notice with a reference of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was given through Mr M.L. Saini, Advocate, to the Welfare Department, who released the decision of the enquiry on December 3, by which the B.C. certificate was declared as fake and the Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, was asked to cancel the certificate.

The letter was also addressed to the Principal Secretary, Local Government, Punjab. The President filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Chandigarh, against the decision of the Welfare Department which was dismissed.

Taking cognisance of the decision taken by the reservation cell of the Welfare Department, the Secretary to Local Government, Punjab, had served a show-cause notice to the President, seeking why action should not be taken against him under Section 16(1) of the Municipal Act.

When asked Mr Baldev Sedha said he would not go for appeal to the Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court, but he has handed over all documents to the Central Body of Swarankar Sangh, at Amritsar to fight against the decision collectively as Swarankar and Soni Rajput were the same caste.



Forum directs PSEB to refund charges
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 29
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board to refund Rs 18,143 charged from Mr Mehar Chand of Green Park with an interest of 12 per cent from the date of deposition of the amount.

In his compliant to the forum, Mr Mehar Chand had said his meter was removed by the PSEB officials on December 30, 1999 and on April 6, 2000, he was asked to pay Rs 18, 143 as the glass of the metre was found to be tampered with. He said a board employee tested the meter in the ME laboratory on August 30, 2000 and the meter was found to be OK. Since the meter was found to be correct, the board officials were requested by Mr Mehar Chand to refund the amount recovered from him alongwith an interest of 18 per cent per annum and a compensation of Rs 5,000.

However, the board officials replied that the consumer was hiding certain facts. They said on December 10, 1999, the consumer was told to change the meter on the report of meter inspector that the meter glass had been tampered with and there were scratches on the digits of the meter. They said the meter was changed on December 30, 1999 and the old one had been duly packed and sealed in the presence of Mr Lakhvir Singh, a representative of Mr Mehar Chand.

The PSEB officials said the complainant was informed about the date of meter testing in the ME laboratory but he did not turn up. They said the meter was found to be tampered with.



Bank union for making defaulters’ name public
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The Punjab Bank Employees Federation has urged the Central Government to make public the names of all big defaulters of the bank. It is the minimum step that the government should have taken by now to recover about Rs 64,000 crore non-performing assets from these defaulters.

Mr Narendar Gaur, district secretary of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation ( PBEF ), in a press release issued here, lamented that the government was shielding the big corporate houses in the country, who were the biggest defaulters as compared to small farmers or entrepreneurs.

He said,‘‘The deposits in the banks have surpassed Rs 10 lakh crore, however, according to government statistics, out of this Rs 64,400 crore are bad loans. Out of this, interestingly, about 7,000 corporate houses owed about Rs 40,000 crores.

Despite different schemes, they have failed to repay the loan on one excuse or other. Besides this huge amount, the banks have already written off substantial amounts. Hence, if due interest on this amount was also added up, the amount would stagger to more than Rs 1.20 lakh crores,’’.

The federation pointed out that unfortunately the government was not even ready to publish the names of defaulters.

Mr Gaur asserted,‘‘The government should confiscate the properties of such big defaulters and attach them to recover the loans. The criminal action should be taken against these deliberate loan defaulters,’’. He questioned the motives of the RBI’s policy of one-time settlement, promising huge waiver of interest to the defaulters.

He said the according to government reports, more than Rs 60,000 crore were due to the government as taxes, and Rs 1 lakh crore were due from bank loan defaulters. Had the government taken to recover that amount, there would have been no need to beg loans from the IMF or World Bank, he added. 



Time for bonfires
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 29
The city is in the grip of a severe cold wave, thanks to the foggy conditions prevailing since Thursday night.

Yesterday was the first day when the residents experienced the chill for the first time in the current winter season as a biting north wind continued to sweep across the city and the sun did not shine at all.

Today, cold winds from the north and the south continued to sweep the city for most part of the day. As a result, attendance in offices grew thinner though women shoppers thronged woollen sale outlets in large numbers today. Shops selling hosiery goods in Chaura Bazar and near Ghanta Ghar did a brisk business as more and more shoppers made a beeline for the warm stuff.

Little bonfires came up at several places in markets and localities as shivering people huddled for some warmth. Weather watchers say the cold wave may persist till Lohri, though the sun may make an appearance now and then.

Though the cold wave conditions may adversely affect daily-wagers and labourers to some extent, these certainly would provide a boost to the hosiery trade.



Unemployed sewing teachers to meet today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The state-level meeting of the unemployed sewing teachers would be held at Chattar Singh Park, near bus stand, here on December 30 to discuss the next course of action of protest against the state government’s recruitment of 26 sewing instructors at Ropar on December 19 by violating the conditions mentioned in the advertisement.

Ms Amritpal Kaur, executive member of the state joint action committee, said here today,. “According to the advertisement published on March 29, 2001, all the females, holding two years’ diploma in sewing from state ITIs and one year course in teaching (after matriculation), were eligible for these posts. However, on the day of interview, on December 19, a notice was put up announcing changes in the selection criteria, giving preference to candidates with higher qualification.’’



Free milk testing camp
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 29
The Verka milk plant of the Ludhiana District Milk Producers Union started its second phase of on-the-spot free milk testing camps here today. According to a press release, the camps were held at selected points.

Interestingly, according to information gathered till late afternoon, about 60 per cent of the total samples for free milk testing have been found to be adulterated.

Mr H.K. Kakkar, Manager, Marketing, claimed, “The sole aim of organising free testing camps in two phases was to make the customers aware of the quality of milk. The first phase concluded on December 23. The customers have also been briefed about the health problems attached to the adulterated milk consumption”. 



Barber hurt in attack
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 29
The Jodhewal police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 427, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Devinder Singh and his accomplices Sheera, a resident of Model Colony, and Satta, a resident of Zailewal village on the charge of beating and threatening Mohammad Imran, a barber of the village, on Thursday.

According to the complainant, the accused came to his shop and used the barber’s tools to injure him. Before leaving the spot, the accused also threatened the complainant.

Shopkeeper injured

The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case under Sections 323, 341 and 506 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Sushil Gupta, a resident of Sunet Nagar, against Harinder Singh, a resident of the same locality.

According to the complaint of Mr Gupta, the accused, who worked at a shop next to his shop, attacked him on Thursday and injured him.

Overcharging alleged

The Model Town police has registered a case under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC against Harish Dhamija of Dhamija Cable on the complaint of Mr Kamaljit Singh Dhillon, owner of KK Cable, that the accused was charging Rs 135 from cable TV subscribers instead of Rs 97.


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