Friday, January 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Dharmendra walks down memory lane
Vimal Sumbly & Loveleen Bains

Lalton (Ludhiana), January 3
It was literally a journey down memory lane for film star Dharmendra to this village, where he spent his childhood among other children. Dharmendra’s father, Kewal Kishen Deol, was the headmaster in the local school in the fifties.

Dharmendra descended on the village at around 9.30 pm and knocked at the door of a farmer. A lady came out and he asked for the residence of Mr Ram Singh, a petition writer, in whose house Mr Deol lived as a tenant. Dharmendra was wearing a black woollen cap. He took it off and told the lady that he was Dharmendra, the film star and wanted to meet Mr Ram Singh. The lady instantly took hold of his hand and insisted that he should visit her house.

Within no time the news spread that Dharmendra was in the village. A village that is usually asleep by 10 p.m. came to life with people, most of them Dharmendra’s acquaintances coming out to meet him. There was a festive atmosphere like the one in a fair. Everyone wanted him to visit his home. He sat on a cart outside a house and people started bringing milk and jalebies. Some offered sarson ka sag and makki ki roti.

People began pushing each other as everyone wanted to be photographed with the film star. The local photographer, Balwinder Dhillon, who had also joined the crowd, was instantly in great demand. Within no time he ran short of film rolls. Some people had to be content to only shake hands with Dharmendra as they could not get themselves photographed with him.

Dharmendra was moved to tears when Mr Ram Singh gave a photograph of the film star’s father to him. He also went to see the wife and daughters of his classmates Surjit Singh, died a few years ago. Dharmendra also offered some sagan to the daughters. So did he to Bittu, son of his other friend Ranjit Singh. He also cracked jokes on some village youths like Mahavir Grewal, Narender Bhakoo and Gurmit Bassi, narrating to them his childhood mischief's when he would be reprimanded.

Earlier on his arrival in the city, he straightaway drove to the shop of Raj Kumar, a barber. When he found the shop closed, he told the securityman that he was Dharmendra, and wanted him to tell Raj Kumar that he (Dharmendra) had come to see him. The securityman could not believe his eyes, and he embraced the star.

Dharmendra had come to Ludhiana along with his wife, Mrs Prakash Kaur, to attend the marriage ceremony of the nephew of Los Angeles-based Dr Ranjit Singh Grewal, Mr Ravi Grewal. After attending the marriage, he went to Sahnewal, his native village. He reached there in the dead of the night and woke up some neighbours. He also visited his ancestral home in the old market.



Police suspects it is contract killing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Police investigations into last night’s murder of industrialist Nirmal Jain are indicating it out to be a case of contract killing, allegedly at the behest of some business rivals. It is after a gap of several months that a gang of contract killers has resurfaced in the city.

Tension and gloom prevailed in the Agar Nagar house of the deceased as local industrialists gathered there to offer sympathies to the family. The industrialists expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order condition and the increasing risk to life in the city. The family owns a couple of steel factories and some furnaces.

Family sources said the victim and his brother Ashwani Jain, who was travelling with him last night also, had been also shot at by some unidentified persons two months back. Some robbers had snatched about Rs 1.75 lakh from one of his brothers in Focal Point. In the third incident, Nirmal Jain had been attacked by some unidentified persons in Focal Point.

Last night, at about 8:30 p.m., he was returning home with his brother in his chaffeur-driven car when two motorcycle-borne unidentified youths came from behind and shot at Nirmal Jain through the car window.

The assailants seemed to have planned the exercise well as they shot through the car window by which the deceased was seated. The others escaped unhurt. They rushed the victim to the DMC and had no time to follow the assailants. The victim was declared brought dead at the hospital.

Police sources said the post-mortem examination revealed that three bullets were fried at the deceased. While one pierced the head, two were embedded in the neck. The police said as per statements of the family members and circumstantial evidence, the killing seemed to be the handiwork of some experts, who in all probability were hired killers.

Senior police officials were busy in a marathon four-hour meeting in the CIA yesterday and discussing ways and means to tackle the soaring crime graph in the city when the incident took place. The meeting was suspended and officials rushed to the crime site and later to the hospital. The rear seat of the car had almost turned red as the victim had bled profusely after being shot at. There was blood on the road also.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the house of the deceased and later at the cremation ground. The wailing family members were openly criticising the police for inaction on their previous complaints.

A relative said the police, instead of taking action on the complaints, had suspected these to be stage-managed. They threatened to move court against the police inaction.

Meanwhile, the district police today launched a special drive to check vehicles in the city in the wake of the murder. It was so far unable to trace the identity of the two youths involved in most of the recent crime incidents in the city.

An alleged two-member gang was giving sleepless nights to the police as crime incidents were taking place one after the other in the city. The police had sounded another red alert late last night, which continued throughout the day today.

While the police had no definite clue about the involvement of the same two youths in all crimes, it suspected on the basis of the common modus operandi that it could be the handiwork of the same youths. In all cases, two youths had carried out the crimes. Barring the looting of a petrol pump, the youths had used some two-wheeler in the crime.

On the basis of the description of the criminals given by the different victims, the police said the description was more or less the same.

In some cases, the youths were wearing helmets, turbans or caps. Police action had been limited to sounding a red alert after a fresh incident and then launching search operations.

Special nakas were erected at almost every point in the city. Besides the usual checking of papers, the police was specially checking chassis numbers. The drive had not led the police to any criminal, but had increased the number of challans.

There was resentment among members of the public as a person was checked several times. A number of callers to the Ludhiana Tribune office today expressed their anger at the police harassment of the common man while criminals were striking at will.



Patient dies due to lack of funds
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, January 3
The only breadwinner in his family Hardev Chand, who was suffering from infective endocardites that had damaged his aortic valve, died at one of the city hospitals on December 29 due to lack of funds. A resident of Mandi Kalan in Bathinda district, Hardev was struggling for funds and life for over past two months in various city hospitals.

The victim was brought to one of the leading hospitals in a serious condition in October and required a prolonged stay. His family was unable to bear the expenses of his treatment which was around Rs 3 lakh. An appeal for raising funds for his treatment was carried in Ludhiana Tribune on October 17, 2001.

He added that the family had spent all the money they had on the treatment. He said: “The money was collected from family and friends. Some social organisations also helped us, but everything failed in saving him”. During his treatment, he was shifted to various hospitals.

Mr A.K. Bhandari, general secretary, Public Cause, a forum to focus public attention on various ills plaguing in society, said the organisation had mobilised monetary help of Rs 75,000 to the patient to meet the expenses at the DMCH. He said the patient was discharged from the DMCH on November 12, 2001, due to paucity of funds. During his stay of 37 days at the hospital, the authorities had charged Rs 10,8051.

“On his discharge from the DMCH, we were on roads. We did not know where to go till the time a good Samaritan, Ms Amarjit Kaur Dhillon, intervened and arranged his admission to Sigma Heart Institute. From November 12 till his death, Hardev was provided with a room and diet and the hospital authorities charged nothing for all these facilities”, said his brother.



Change in school timings
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, January 3
Keeping in view the foggy conditions, the District Magistrate, Mr S.K. Sandhu, has ordered change in school timings with effect from January 7 to 31. In a written communication, Mr Sandhu has directed the authorities of all government, private, aided and affiliated schools to set their timings from 9.15 am to 3.15 pm.

Fatehgarh Sahib: The District Magistrate, Mr Vikas Partap, has ordered the change in timings of all schools in the district with immediate effect. In a press note issued here today, Mr H.S. Bhullar, DEO (S), stated that due to intense fog and cold wave one hour relaxation has been given to the students and teachers. He said primary schools in the district would work from 10 a.m., to 2 p.m. whereas the middle, high and senior secondary schools would work from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This timing would remain in effect till January 15 in all government, private and aided schools.



A dismal New Year for panchayat staff
Once again no salaries for them
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
While the state government is busy preparing itself for the elections, and officials were celebrating the arrival of the New Year, about 4000 employees of 141 panchayat samitis in the state were a demoralised lot as they failed to get their salaries once again. The panchayat and Rural Development Department failed to release a grant of Rs 44 crore.

The officials of the department at Chandigarh disclosed that due to non-release of funds, most of the employees have not been paid any salary for since June last year. They said that though the Cabinet had taken a decision that the funds would be directly released to the department, no action has been taken so far. The department was supposed to get a share of about Rs 52.83 crore this year. However, only Rs 8.95 crore was released so far. Now the finance department has informed that a Rs 6.25 crore cheque would be soon cleared for the payment of the salary.

In fact the Finance Department has been delaying the release of share of panchayat samitis in the state excise duty continuously for the past many years.

Annoyed at the non-payment of salaries, the Panchayat Samitis’ Employees Union has now threatened the state government with a prolonged agitation to press upon its demands. Mr Nirmal Singh, state president of the union, said the employees would hold a protest dharna on January 10 at Chandigarh to press upon the CM to concede their demands.

He claimed that in a number of cases, the government had not even bothered to deposit its share of provident fund. In fact the state government had failed to provide regular salaries to the panchayat secretaries, sewing instructors, panchayat officers and other staff of the samitis that form the backbone of about 12,000 panchayats in Punjab from the past over two years.

The union leaders alleged that under the Panchayati Raj Act, the zila parishads and panchayat samitis were not provided adequate financial powers by the state government. Consequently, they are not even able to pay the salaries of their employees, what to talk of any development work. Further, these local bodies had been dissolved by the Akali Dal and BJP government in 1998, just after coming to power, due to political reasons.

Ironically, under the Panchayat Act, the panchayat samitis were expected to be entrusted with executive powers such as to run primary schools, village health system, and to have control over tubewell operators, patwaris and other rural workers.

They are officially dependent on village panchayats, who are expected to provide them 20 per cent of the revenue from the Shamlat land, but panchayats do not provide them these funds on one account or the other.

The department sources said the government had appointed employees of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats in the panchayat samitis, besides the regular appointments in them.

The department officials, including BDPOs and DDPOs, who were the employees of the department, are regularly getting salaries. The union leaders allege, due to two types of employees in the same office, there was no coordination between them and the work was also suffering.

Another employee, who did not wish to be quoted, said: “We are forced to work as bonded labourers of the government without any payment for months.

Some of us have even decided to approach the High Court to get regular salary.” The morale of the employees has also taken a nosedive due to delay in salaries, he added.



AISSF (Mehta) supports Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
The All-India Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) today came out with unambiguous support for the policies of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Addressing a meeting of party workers here today, its president, Mr Gursharan Singh Grewal, lauded the achievements of Mr Badal during the past five years and pointed out that it was his leadership that had seen Punjab enter into a new era of peace, progress and prosperity.

Mr Grewal made a fervent appeal to the workers and supporters of the Akali Dal to work together and ensure the return of Mr Badal. He claimed that Mr Badal had provided a people-friendly administration to the people and had taken welfare measures for all sections of society.

The leader lambasted the Congress and other opposition forces, which were bent upon tarnishing the image of the government. He alleged that the Congress had no issue with which it could to go to the people and seek their support. He claimed that the Congress was a divided house and had been responsible for all ills Punjab was facing.



Valmiki society flays Badal
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
A meeting of the Bhagwan Valmiki Seva Society was held at Habib Ganj here yesterday which was attended by members and others.

Addressing the meeting, the chief guest, Mr Jasbir Kumar Johny, chairman, SC/ST Cell, Punjab Youth Congress, exhorted the Valmiki and Dalit youth to give up the path of social evils and gain knowledge for doing progressive things in life. He said it was their duty to build a better Dalit samaj.

He lamented that the present state government had done very little for the welfare of the Dalits. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, had failed to keep his 1997 promise of providing jobs to Dalit youth. He criticised the state government for stopping even scholarships for Dalit students.

Mr Jasbir Kumar further said the ‘shagun’ scheme under which Rs 5,100 was to be given by the government for the marriage of a girl had turned out to be a farce. He said instead of decreasing the power bills of the Dalits, the Badal government had increased the same.

Among others who attended the meeting were Mr Ram Lubhaya Bains, Mr Jasbir Bittu, Mr Janak Raj, Mr Ajved Kumar Nahar, Mr O.P. Rahi, Mr Dharam Pal Bali, Mr Pawan Kumar Pammi, Mr Bhagwan Dass and Mr Vicky Sahota.



Rs 15 crore of black money unearthed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
About Rs 15 crore of black money has been surrendered to the Income Tax Department after surveys conducted by the department over the past two months.

A ‘gachak-reodi’ manufacturer of Ludhiana and a groundnut wholesaler have surrendered about Rs 90 lakh and about Rs 30 lakh, respectively.

The income tax officials, after the survey of the income of two rice millers of Jagraon and Ludhiana, got a surrender of Rs 90 lakh and Rs 1.10 crore, respectively.

Earlier, a hosiery manufacturer of Ludhiana had surrendered Rs 3 crore, said to be the biggest surrender of black money, so far, by an individual.

The IT Department carried out surveys at Malerkotla, Dhuri, Khanna and Jagraon, from where it got Rs 15 crore of undeclared wealth.

The IT authorities are further closing up on tax evaders.



Traffic cops issue blank challan slip
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
The allegation that the local traffic police is on blindly issuing challans seem to have some truth in it, if the experience of a city resident is considered.

An traffic policeman, alleged to be drunk, issued the challan slip to this city resident named Dara Singh, who was going on a scooter near Phulanwal village yesterday. However, the challan slip does not have anything on it besides a stamp of the Sadar police and the signatures of a senior traffic policeman.

A copy of the blank challan slip that the newspaper got says for itself how the challans are usually issued here. The challan slip does not mention the name of the person who has been fined or the traffic rule that he has violated. It does not mention any other information, on the basis of which, the fined persons can take up the issue with the traffic police officials.

Mr Dara Singh said, even though all his papers had been in order, the traffic policeman, who had no nameplate on his uniform, had issued him a challan slip. He said there had been three other policemen with this man at a checkpoint near the village.



Tension as bulldozers arrive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Tension gripped a market near Shingar Cinema in Shivaji Nagar here today when a demolition squad of the Municipal Corporation came there with a heavy police security to clear the footpaths and the corporation land in front of the shops of encroachment.

Shopkeepers gathered in front of the bulldozers and threatened to turn violent if the machines moved for demolition. Senior officials of the MC and the police reached the place and the tension was defused by the evening. The opposing parties reached an understanding to hold a meeting to discuss the anti-encroachment drive before proceeding.

The local MLA, Mr Satpal Gosain, who was leading the shopkeepers, had a heated argument with the MC staff. Members of the warring parties even exchanged some blows after an altercation between the leader and the MC staff.



Mother, son booked on abduction charge
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The Division Number two police station has registered a case of abduction under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC against Poonam Kakkar and her son for allegedly kidnapping a 15-year-old girl from outside her house on Wednesday. Ms Sukh Devi, wife of Mr Phool Chand, a resident of Habib Ganj, stated in her complaint that the accused had kidnapped her daughter, Salma, and taken her to their house at Jalandhar.

Snatching case

The Division Number five police station on Wednesday registered a case of snatching under Sections 397, 323, 506, 140 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Jagdish Kapoor, a resident of Harnam Nagar, against Ishavjot Singh Cheema, Jagan and Dimple along with eight to ten others who, armed with a revolver and hockey sticks, allegedly snatched Rs 30,000 from the complainant at Feroze Gandhi Market on Wednesday. One of the accused, Cheema, was apprehended on the spot by the public.

Student beaten up

The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case of beating under Sections 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Jatinder Singh, a resident of Gurdaspur, studying at the PAU here against Gursewak Singh, Fauji, Navi, Dharamraj Singh and others. Jatinder Singh alleged that the accused attacked him with ‘kirpans’ and sticks and injured him. No arrest has been made so far.

Case registered

The Division Number two police station has registered a case under Sections 324 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Dheeraj Bali, a resident of New Kidwai Nagar, against Gagan Sharma, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, and two others. According to the complainant, the accused beat him up outside his house on Wednesday.

The police has registered a similar case under Sections 323, 341, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Vikas, a resident of Dayal Nagar, and three others on the complaint of Mr Kamal Kalyan,a resident of the same locality. The complainant stated that while he was on his way home on a scooter, the accused intercepted him and beat him up. No arrest has been made so far.

One held

Mr Baldev Singh, ASI, Sarabha Nagar, arrested Satwinder Singh, alias Dimple, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, on Wednesday and recovered from him a VCR and a couple of video cassettes which had been allegedly stolen from Sunet village. The accused has been booked under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC at the Sarabha Nagar police station.

Knife seized

The Focal Point police nabbed a Bihari migrant, Arvind Singh, son of Adalat Singh, with a knife from his possession from the Jeewan Nagar chowk on Wednesday. The accused has been living in a slum near the Vishwakarma chowk in Phase 5 of the Focal Point area. The accused has been booked under Section 25 of the Arms Act.

Liquor seized

During special checking on Wednesday, the Division Number one police arrested Sagar, a migrant from UP, and seized 15 bottles of illicit liquor from his possession. He has been booked under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act.

Pedestrian dies

A pedestrian was crushed to death by a vehicle on Wednesday. The victim has been identified as Tara Singh of Raian village. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination. The police has registered a case under Sections 304-A and 279 of the IPC.

One booked

The local police has registered a case against Harbhavanpreet Singh of Kohara village under Sections 212 and 216 of the IPC for allegedly providing shelter to terrorists in his house. The details of the case are yet not revealed by the police as the man is absconding.



‘PNB will achieve target in retail banking’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Punjab National Bank (PNB) is likely to achieve its target of Rs 220 crore lending through retail banking in Punjab this year, despite general recession and war-like situation in the region.

Mr K.I. Singh, senior regional manager, while speaking to Ludhiana Tribune at the regional office, here. “The bank has entered this emerging market in a big way, and is likely to provide loans of Rs 750 crore through retail banking at all branches in the country. The target for the Punjab region is to provide loans of Rs 220 crore till March 31, 2002. We have already provided loans worth Rs 130 crore.”

He claimed that the festival bonanza scheme launched by the bank in October last year has proved successful in boosting the consumer loans for consumer durables and housing sector. The bank is charging 0.5 per cent less rate of interest and zero processing fee, under the scheme. The scheme, which was scheduled to end on December 31, has been further extended till January 31, he said.

The scheme includes loans for housing, conveyance, consumer loans, scheme for financing of traders, finance against mortgage of immovable property, personal loans to professionals, pensioners, education loans, advances against gold and jewellery and financing to property owners against future lease rentals.

In fact, the credit to the agricultural sector has already reached a plateau, and due to recessionary trends there are few takers for loans in the hosiery, cycle and machine tools industry, the traditional borrowers in the city. The coming up of Citi Bank, ICICI and other private banks have also affected the corporate lending. Nationalised banks are also gearing up to meet the challenge by improving their customer service and new value-added chains.

Commenting on the increasing volumes of retail lending, Mr Singh said: “The banks were not ready to provide any credit for luxury goods few years back, as it was considered a wasteful investment. However, the new banking model considers that the credit for the consumer durables would boost the manufacturing sector, besides improving the life of middle class.”

He stated that the bank has entered this market by loaning Rs 75 crore, which was likely to cross Rs 750 crore, this year. The Ludhiana region is aiming at providing consumer loans worth Rs 45 crore, and the bank has already cleared loans worth Rs 22 crore by December 31.



Biz Clips

FAIR OPENED: Knit-Vision 2002, a garment technology fair, was inaugurated at here on Thursday. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Minister for Technical Education, was the chief guest. Many national and international exhibitors will showcase knitting, spinning, processing, embroidery, finishing and cutting machinery and technology. About 60 companies, including those from Japan, Taiwan, Italy, Germany, the USA, the UK, Korea and China, have booked space for the exhibition. TNS


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