Saturday, January 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


15 MC officials charge-sheeted
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 24
Taking serious note of the blatant violations of building bylaws in the city, particularly the commercial complexes, hotels and other buildings, the state government has issued charge sheets to 15 MC officials here. One Municipal Town Planner (MTP), four Assistant Town Planners (ATPs) and 10 Building Inspectors would face departmental action for negligence, alleged complicity with builders and their failure to take appropriate action against violation of building norms.

According to information gathered by Ludhiana Tribune, the Vigilance Department of the Local Bodies Department has prima facie established that the erring officials had failed to take action against those responsible for construction of several commercial buildings in the city, that violated building bylaws with respect to adequate parking space, floor area ratio and permissible height of buildings. In some cases, orders for demolition of the buildings were not executed, allegedly after striking a deal and cases of composition were kept pending for years together, causing massive financial loss to the civic body.

The buildings that had come up in violation of the norms were identified as Friends Regency Hotel, a marriage palace on the Chandigarh road, Perfect Marriage Palace on the GT Road, Chevron Hotel on the Link road, Jandu Complex on the Chandigarh road and several other commercial complexes in city localities. The Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of the Local Bodies Department and Chief Town Planner, Punjab, Mr M.S. Aujla, had personally inspected some of these buildings and gone through the relevant files before a decision was taken to proceed against the guilty officials.

It was officially stated that the charge-sheeted officials included Mr S.S. Gill, a former MTP, Mr Tarlok Singh, Ms Monica Anand, Ms Kamaljit Kaur and Mr Phool Chand (all ATPs), Mr Karamjit Singh, Mr Subhash Khosla, Mr Darshan Singh Gill, Mr Amarjit Sethi, Mr Darshan Singh and Mr Subhash Kharbanda.

Keeping in view the increase in the number of commercial buildings in the city that were being raised with scant consideration for building bylaws, the action initiated by the government was not even a tip of the iceberg, according to knowledgeable sources in the MC. If reports were to be believed, each and every conceivable violation of building bylaws commanded a price and the offenders could get away either with the right connections or appropriate payment in proportion to the kind of violation. The building branch officials, right from the top down to ‘sewadars’, who accompany the inspectors to field, were allegedly involved in the racket. As a result, scores of buildings keep coming up in the city violations of bylaws and the MC not even getting a small percentage of the composition fee, which should have accrued to it for compoundable violations.

The MC had undertaken a drive to realise arrears of building composition fee that had remained unpaid for years together and the campaign had yielded good results till it lasted. But still, there were hundreds, if not thousands, of such cases of gross violations of bylaws that were compounded long back, but the conniving officials had done precious little to realise the money due to the MC for their personal gains. In quite a few cases, the relevant files were found ‘missing’ in a mysterious manner, making it still more difficult for the civic administration to move against the defaulting builders.



Kidney scam casts its shadow on renal transplants
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, January 24
The kidney scam, that has rocked the state, has not only reduced the number of patients coming to the nephrology departments of various hospitals, but also spread terror in the minds of doctors, many of whom have preferred to go on leave till the dust settles over the scam. No renal transplant has taken place in the city for the past two to three weeks after the police arrested some doctors in Amritsar earlier this month. Neither the doctors, nor the patients are willing to talk about any kidney transplant fearing a potential crackdown by the police.

A relative of a person, who needs an immediate renal transplant, said one of his nephew was ready to donate his kidney to his uncle, but neither were they willing to take a chance, nor were the doctors encouraging due to the strict vigil by the special investigation team (SIT). As a result, even the genuine cases were suffering. “We are told that only the mother, father, brother, sister or wife could become the donors. The patient is serious but we do not want to be in trouble as we are told that false cases are being framed-up these days”, he said.

Another patient complained that he had approached a concerned doctor recently, who refused to extend any kind of help to him. “The doctors are so scared, that they are not even willing to talk on the issue. I am the single bread-winner in the family and I need a transplant but due to the police crackdown on medical fraternity, the concerned doctors in the city refuse to talk”, said the patient.

Dr Sandeep Puri, Medical Superintendent, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, confirmed that the flow of patients seeking kidney transplant had definitely decreased. “The patients are definitely less these days. But the screening committee at its recent meeting has approved two cases of kidney transplants. Both the donors are the wives of the patients”, said Dr Puri.

It is learnt that the screening committees and appropriate authorities have been issued fresh guidelines by the department to be more vigilant. However, seeing the fate of the doctors involved in the racket, no official is willing to take any decision in any case.

Dr Navdeep Khaira, President of the Nephrology Society, alleges that doctors are being falsely implicated in the case. “We are doing our duty as per the Human Organs Transplantation Act 1994. If any proof is found against any doctor, you hang him but they should not be arrested till the time they are proved guilty. We have decided that we will not do any transplantation till we get justice”, says Dr Khaira.

It is also learnt that the police is pressurising the recipients in some cases to make a statement against the doctors who conducted the transplants to strengthen the investigation. Relatives of such recipients say they are upset over the manner in which the police personnel are pressurising the recipients to make statements that help the police.



Probe ordered for the third time
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
The Badam Bagh firing case, involving the suspended District Commandant of Home Guards, Daljit Singh Grewal, as the main accused, has created a record of sorts with the district police announcing yet another inquiry into the incident. After the submission of two inquiry reports earlier, both in favour of the accused, the district police chief, Mr H.S. Sidhu, has deputed DSP (CIA Wing-I) Malkit Singh to conduct a fresh probe into the incident.

The Home Guards Commandant was accused by Mr Ram Singh Sohi, owner of the Badam Bagh, of attempting to forcibly occupy the almond orchard situated near Rajguru nagar in August last year.

Police sources told Ludhiana Tribune that the new inquiry officer would start the probe afresh. The first inquiry was conducted by Inspector Rattan Singh Brar and the second by DSP (Sadar) Manjit Singh Dhesi.

After the submission of inquiry report by Mr Dhesi, the complainant Mr Sohi, in a communication to the district police chief, alleged that both the inquiries were biased and the true witnesses of the incident were either not incorporated into the inquiry or their statements twisted. Both the officers, in previous statement to Ludhiana Tribune, have denied all such allegations. They have maintained that they had conducted the inquiry in a fair and impartial manner.

Meanwhile Mr Sohi has levelled fresh allegations that some of the witnesses mentioned in the inquiry report as the ones, who stated that they had not heard any fire shots that night or seen the Home Guards Commandant and his gunmen at the Badam Bagh, were willing to state on record that they had never given or signed any such statement.

He said he had brought these ‘facts’ in the knowledge of Mr Sidhu, who accepted his plea and deputed DSP Malkit Singh as the new inquiry officer.

Daljit Singh Grewal was also facing charges of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The case of corruption was registered against him by the State Vigilance Bureau.



Challaned for driving car without helmet
Tribune News Service

A copy of the challan issued to a Sikh driver for not wearing a helmet while driving a car!
A copy of the challan issued to a Sikh driver for not wearing a helmet while driving a car!

Ludhiana, January 24
Strange are the ways of Ludhiana police. When it decides to do something, nothing can stop it. Even if it means challaning a Sikh driver, wearing a turban, for not wearing a helmet while driving a car !

Sounds incredible ? Meet Mr Satnam Singh Shampy, press secretary of the district wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), who had such an absurd experience a few days ago. He was challaned by an ASI of the traffic police at a police nakka opposite Vardhman police station on Tuesday evening.

He was driving his car, Maruti 800 No. PB-25- B-1480, when the ASI stopped him and without any provocation or violation of any traffic rule challaned him for not wearing a helmet.

A copy of the challan receipt, in the possession of TNS, clearly mentions the vehicle in question as a Maruti car and the offence being driving without wearing a helmet. The challan cops said the driver has been booked under Sections 129 and 179 of the Motor Vehicles Act.

Mr Satnam Singh said when he asked the traffic cop the reason for the challan, he was told that his challan would definitely be cut, whatever be the reason. He said he declined to sign on the challan as was required in the receipt form.

The incident has angered the activists of the district SAD(B), who claim the challaning of the press secretary was a politically motivated incident and was part of the ‘ongoing political vendetta’ against the Akalis in the state.

Mr Jatinder Singh Dua, general secretary, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Khalsa, secretary-general and Mr Amarjit Singh, vice-president of the district SAD-B, have in a statement condemned the incident.



‘Gallows for Bhullar has alienated Sikhs further’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
Activists of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) today staged a dharna in front of the Mini Secretariat to protest against the death sentence awarded to Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the main accused in the Delhi bomb blast case.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, convenor of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, said the sentence has alienated the Sikhs further after the recent acquittal of one of the main accused in the 1984 genocide.

He said the accused had been sentenced to death even though no witness had deposed against the accused, yet the court had acquitted the accused in the massacre of thousands of innocent Sikh youth even as their hapless widows were running from pillar to post to get justice for the past 18 years. This was another deep wound on the psyche of the Sikh community, they asserted.

This was a fresh attempt to rekindle the simmering anger among the Sikh youth and at this crucial juncture we appeal to other non-Sikh organisations to come forward to ensure that the accused was not hanged at the gallows just because he belonged to a minority community, he pointed out.

The protesters said they appeal to the President to intervene in the matter and ensure that justice was done. This would send a wrong signal to thousands of Sikh youth who were in the mainstream but have been feeling for quite some time that the law of the land was allegedly biased towards the minorities. The ball was now in the court of the government since it was up to them to decide whether they wanted to win the confidence of the youth or not,” they opined. They later submitted a memorandum to the DC.



Bitta fears threat to life
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
“A faction of the Congress, allegedly in collusion with certain self-styled Panthic leaders, is trying to get me assassinated and a sum of Rs 4 crore has been received from abroad for the contract killing,” claims Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, chairman of the All India Anti-Terrorism Front.

He was in the city today evening and reacted to the statements of certain panthic organisations that have announced that these would explore every avenue to get revoked the death penalty awarded to Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the main accused in the Delhi bomb blast case.

Lashing out at Prof Darshan Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, former Jathedars of Akal Takht, Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat convener Charanjit Singh Channi, Bhai Kanwar Singh Dhami and Mr Kapil Sibal, he alleged they were working at the behest of a faction in the Congress that wanted to get him killed.

“I am a Congressman first and had been at the forefront in battling against terrorism in the state. As a consequence, I was the prime target and had survived many assassination attempts. In the Delhi bomb blasts, many security personnel were killed, but providence saved me. I was seriously injured in another bomb blast and remained in a critical condition for many days,” he said.

“My detractors have commented on the verdict of the Supreme Court and as such have committed contempt of the apex court of the land. All law-abiding citizens are bound to accept the verdict. In case the above mentioned persons do not desist, I will file a contempt petition in the court,” he said.

He said he had written to the Congress president, but she had not reacted to his submission.

He said he would also meet the President, if certain Sikh organisations met him to impress upon him to pardon Devinderpal Singh. “I will also call on the President and appraise him of the sufferings endured by the masses during those dark days in Punjab. Thousands of widows are still living in dread of those days and the psyche of a generation of children, too, has been scarred. I will take a delegation of victims to the President and impress upon him to let law take its course so that the death sentence acted as a deterrent,” he said.

Asserting that he was a true Sikh and abided by the teachings of the gurus, Mr Bitta said he would also meet the Jathedar of Akal Takht and urge him to give him a patient hearing. “I will also tell him that a section of the community was trying to give a fresh lease of life to the old plea of the tortured psyche of Sikhs to fan the flames of terrorism in the state”, he added.

Commenting on the growing activities of the ISI in the country, he said India should desist from having any truck with Pakistan. “We should retaliate against the low intensity conflict in the valley and also take strong measures to counter the threat looming large on the horizon because of the terrorist training camps in Bangladesh.”



Harassed railway employee alleges police inaction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
Even as three months have lapsed since a class IV woman railway employee had alleged sexual harassment at the hands of some union leaders, no headway has been made into the case.

Ms Veena Rani, the alleged victim had complained to the SSP about some Northern Railway Men’s Union leaders of harassing her sexually and even threatening her of dire consequences if she did not succumb to their whims and fancies.

The SSP had then marked an inquiry to the GRP, Ludhiana, to investigate the matter and do the needful. But nothing has happened so far.

Ms Veena Rani, an employee in the carriage department of the Railways had even complained to various officials and had accused two leaders of the N.R.M.U. of using vulgar language and making advances towards her for the past two years.

Talking to the Tribune today, Ms Veena alleged that she was being pressurised by the accused as she had complained against them. She said she thought that she would be given justice but due to the delay in action she was suffering even more for making the complaint.

In her various letters to the authorities concerned she has been claiming that she was being harassed as she was a widow and had got a job in the Railways on sympathetic grounds. She further alleged that both the union leaders had harassed her sexually during night duties and when she complained against them she was transferred and given tougher duties.

She had from time to time sought transfers from various departments on account of this harassment. Her requests were answered but the leaders continued to harass her in the new departments also. She pointed out the since other employees were scared of the leaders they were not ready to side with her openly.

Despite repeated complaints no action was being taken against the accused.

While SHO of GRP, Ludhiana, was not available for comments an official told the Tribune that they had already inquired into the matter and that the report was being sent to the SSP.

Meanwhile Ms Veena Rani claimed that the union leaders had started pressurising her to withdraw her complaint. She said she had the fear of being eliminated or physically injured by the unionists.



DYC hails move to reopen murder case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, general secretary, District Youth Congress, has welcomed the move of the district police to reopen a murder and corruption case involving three police officers, formerly posted in the city.

Mr Grewal said the police move to re-investigate the Ashwani Kumar murder case and a corruption case registered against police officers, including SP B S Gill, DSP Rajinder Singh Cheema and Sub-Inspector Dalip Bedi.

Mr Grewal demanded that an inquiry be conducted into the assets of the police officers by a senior Punjab police officer or the CBI.

The district police had re-opened the case after a district judge refused to uphold the police request of cancellation of the FIR against the cops.



Himachali youth found dead in room
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 24
Twenty-two-year-old Surjit Kumar, a native of Kangra in Himachal Pradesh, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his room in the Indian Reserve Battalion camp in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar where he had been working as a cook for the past one year or so.

When the cook did not come out of his room, people went to his room where he was found dead. The Sarabha Nagar police reached the spot and sent the body for an autopsy to the Civil Hospital. His viscera has been sent for a chemical analysis to Patiala and the police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC presuming that the deceased had consumed something poisonous to commit suicide. But in the absence of any suicide note, foul play cannot be entirely ruled out.

Cable operator booked: A cable operator running his business in Rajiv Gandhi Colony was booked by a PCR team on Thursday afternoon on the charge of screening pornographic films in the area. A case has been registered.

Fraud alleged: On the directions of the SP (Headquarters), the Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case of fraud under Sections 420, 452, 323, 511 and 506 of the IPC on the joint statement of Mr Harjinder Kumar, a resident of Gagandeep Colony and Mr Soni Kumar, a resident of Kailash Nagar, against Chaman and Naresh, residents of Sardar Nagar.

The complainants alleged that they had given Rs 80,000 to the accused as he had promised to send them abroad. But the accused neither sent them abroad nor returned the money. When they demanded their money back, the accused tried to intimidate them after forcibly entering their houses and beating them up on Wednesday night. The accused had also threatened them of dire consequences, added the complainants.

Assault cases: On the complaint of Ms Baljinder Kaur, a resident of Harjinder Nagar mohalla on the Bahadurke road, the Salem Tabri police has registered a case under Sections 451, 323, 506 and 34 of the IPC against Nandu, a resident of the same locality, Kaka, a resident of Banda Bhadur Nagar, and Deepa, a resident of Chhawni Mohalla. The woman had alleged that the accused entered her house and attacked her mother-in-law as a result of which she was injured.

The Sadar police, on the statement of Ms Ajaib Kaur, a resident of Rania village, has registered a case under Sections 323, 341 and 506 of the IPC, against Sunny, resident of the same village. The woman had alleged that the accused intercepted her daughter on the road, beat her up and threatened her.

The Haibowal police has registered a case of assault on the statement of Mr Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Ranjodh Park, against Sunder Lal, Dalip Kumar and some other unidentified persons. The complainant had alleged that the accused had intercepted him on the way and beaten him up. The accused also threatened him before going away, he added.

One booked: The Haibowal police has booked a dog owner, Mr Gopal, a resident of Park Colony, on the complaint of a woman resident of the area, Ms Kamla Devi. The complainant alleged that the dog of the accused had bitten her son.

Satta bookies held: The Division No 6 police has arrested three persons from different places in the area and booked them separately under the Gambling Act.

Sushil Kumar, a resident of Kishore Nagar, was nabbed in Kashmir Nagar while playing satta and a sum of Rs 600 was recovered from his possession. Joginder Pal, a resident of Janak Puri, was nabbed at Samrala chowk while he was also engaged in a similar activity. A sum of Rs 571 was recovered from him. The third accused, Naresh Kumar, a resident of New Hargobind Nagar, was arrested from near an overbridge on the Buddha nullah. A sum of Rs 800 was recovered from his possession.

Liquor seized: The Division No 5 police has arrested two persons with 18 bottles of illicit liquor. The accused, who have been booked under the Excise Act, have been identified as Ramesh Kumar and Kamaljit, both residents of Jawahar Nagar.

In another case, Nirmal Chand, a resident of Sufa Kheri village in Haryana, was nabbed by the Sadar police with seven bottles of illicit liquor.



Sony expects 25 pc increase in sales
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
Sony India will diversify on a much larger scale into digital imaging and digital imaging solutions in the coming year. Targeting its audio-visual equipment aggressively in the North Indian market, Sony is expecting to record a 25 per cent increase in sales in the North during the current fiscal over the last year figures. “We are likely to touch the Rs 200 crore mark this March, an increase by about Rs 50 crore from last year”. This was disclosed here today by Mr Prasun Banerjee, AGM - North India Sales of Sony India.

He disclosed that TV sales formed nearly 50 per cent of the company’s revenue, while 30 per cent sales revenue was collected from sales of audio-visual equipment. Other products like digital cameras, Home Theatres, etc formed only 10 per cent of the revenue. Last year the company had sold 50,000 TV sets, while this year the company was expecting to double its television sales. He said the recently launched Xtreme series were well accepted with the company recording a sale of about 3,000 every month in the North.

Mr Banerjee, however, admitted that the company was well aware of the existence of a large number of Sony products in the grey market. This was mainly due to the fault tax and duty structure.


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