L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Rs 1.5 cr ST evasion detected
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 3
The Excise and Taxation Department here has come across unaccounted business transactions worth Rs 13 crore involving sales tax evasion of nearly Rs 1.5 cr from an oil trader at Mandi Mullanpur in this district. The tax evasion, once established, would attract a penalty of 200 per cent and the department seemed all set to strike it rich with a collection of Rs 4.5 cr from this case.

Giving details, Mr D.K. Verma, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Ludhiana District II, told Ludhiana Tribune that the firm, Punjab Agri Products, had obtained its registration under new VAT regime in April 2005 and during last two quarters of the current financial year, had filed nil transaction returns. On the basis of the returns, the information was passed on to information collection centres on state entry points that the said firm was not conducting any business.

However, the ICC at Punjab and Jammu-Kashmir border reported that a consignment of mentha oil was dispatched by the Mullanpur firm to Jammu, purportedly posing as a brokerage firm and using fabricated documents. Mr Verma said on receiving information from the ICC, the books of account as well as the stocks of the firm were thoroughly inspected which revealed business transactions in mentha oil worth around Rs 13 crore.

The officials were of the belief that the firm was engaged in direct procurement of mentha from the farmers, extraction of mentha oil in a clandestine manner and selling the same either without proper invoices or using fabricated documents, thereby evading VAT and other taxes. Mentha oil was placed in the 12.5 per cent VAT bracket.

During questioning by officials, the owner of the firm had reportedly claimed to be working as a broker and making purchases on behalf of other firms. The books of account, other incriminating documents and mentha stocks of the firm had been seized and further investigation was in progress, added Mr Verma.



Thousands take part in nagar kirtan
Tribune Reporters

A religious procession being taken out in connection with Guru Gobind Singh's birthday in Ludhiana
A religious procession being taken out in connection with Guru Gobind Singh's birthday in Ludhiana on Tuesday. — Photo by I.V.

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 3
Thousands of devotees from the town and surrounding villages participated in a 'nagar kirtan' organised by Sikh religious organisations today in various parts of the town.

The kirtan was organised under the aegis of the Kalgidhar Federation and Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee, Singh Sabha, before the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, which falls on January 5.

The procession started from the Guru Teg Bahadur Chowk and passed through various parts of the town, including railway road, main bazar, Bhagat Singh Chowk, Bazar Bazazan, Gandhi Chowk and Mahavir Marg.

A large number of vehicles and tractor trailers carrying devotees moved through the town. Panj Pyaras, gatka artistes, Bhangra artistes and a couple of school bands accompanied the devotees. A beautifully decorated palanquin, carrying the holy Guru Granth Sahib followed the Panj Pyaras.
A boy enjoys his 'papad' while participating in the nagar kirtan in Ludhiana
A boy enjoys his 'papad' while participating in the nagar kirtan in Ludhiana on Tuesday. — Photo by Inderjit Verma

The devotees sang Gurbani and performed kirtan. Gurdwaras in various localities and social organisations organised tea and langar for the devotees.

Members of various organisations, including Sukhmani Seva Society, Vishawkarma Mandir Committee, Baba Budha Gurmat Parchar Trust, Gurdwara Bhagat Ravi Dass, Jandali Road, and Gurdwara Namdev showered flowers and sprinkled perfumed water all the way.

Khanna: The management of Gurdwara Shri Guru Teg Bahadar, Nagar Mohalla Annia, organised a nagar kirtan which started from Gurdwara Shri Guru Teg Bahadar, Samrala road. Panj Pyaras with Guru Granth Sahib led the procession.

Hundreds of people took part in the nagar kirtan. Path of Guru Granth Sahib was held at a gurdwara and a bhog would be performed on January 5.



Union members vote for decision on strike
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
In an action much unlike unions, a railway employees’ union here has resorted to secret voting to decide whether it should go in for a strike. The All-India Railway Mens Federation opted for a “democratic way” instead of imposing the decision. Leaders of the federation said they would not observe strike if the majority decided against it.

The voting began today and would continue till January 8. “The decision would be taken on January 15. We would not go in for a strike if the majority of employees vote against it,” Mr Daljeet Singh, divisional secretary, Northern Railway Mens’ Union, said. Through voting, the federation not only wanted to give the employees the right to decide whether they wanted a strike, but also would help them take decisions about such matters in future.

“It is commonly perceived that unions pressure employees to go in for a strike. We ensured transparency and secrecy so that the employees could take decisions without any pressure,” he said. Long queues of railway employees were seen at the locomotive and diesel sheds, where the voting began. Over 400 employees cast their votes at the loco shed and the turnout was more than 550 at the diesel shed.

If the majority vote is in favour of a strike, the employees would go in for a strike in February in support of their demands. There is a 17-point demand charter that has been presented by the federation.

Among the demands are forming the sixth pay commission, merging dearness allowance with the basic, stopping outsourcing, increase in the General Provident

Fund interest rates and creation of vacancies. Employees are also opposed to the provisions of contributory pension scheme. The employees would stop trains in the Ferozepore division. The employees of carriage, station and engineering branches would cast their votes on January 4 and 5, whereas those from Moga, Jagraon and Ajitwal would vote on January 6 and 7.



2 fires in city, loss put at Rs 80 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Property, tyres and alloy wheels worth Rs 70 lakh were gutted in a major fire that broke out at R.K. Tyre Company in Cheema Chowk here today.

At around 12.30 pm, the four-storeyed building caught fire and all goods, including expensive alloy wheels, melted and were reduced to ashes. The building was also damaged with all wood work destroyed.

According to Mr Lovejot Singh, manager of the company, the fire spread so fast that three storeys of the building were gutted and all material stored inside was damaged. It took 10 fire engines to control the fire. The fire was doused in more than four hours. He said two storeys of the building were totally damaged.

The manager said the cause of the fire was yet to be ascertained. Preliminary investigations were, however, suggesting that it was caused due to a short-circuit. He added that they had suffered major losses as the goods were not insured. He said alloy wheels were very expensive and even those which were not burnt completely were rendered useless.

In another fire incident, machines and cloth worth Rs 10 lakh were damaged at Amit Cut Piece in Basant Nagar when a fire broke out in the shop at 3 am today.

The cause of fire is suspected to be a short circuit. Fire officers said the building and machines in the shop were completely damaged due to the fire.



Industry seeks protection
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Expressing concern over the rising incidents of theft and dacoity in factories, the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association has demanded security from the administration.

"An atmosphere of fear is prevailing among industrialists due to the rise in theft. Several industrialists have incurred heavy losses due to the same," said the general secretary of the association, Mr Varinder Kapoor.

The industrialists had apprised the administration of the situation and sought security. "Groups of 10-15 persons are normally involved in such crimes which make it difficult for industrialists to deal with such crime on an individual basis," he said.



Three youths beaten up
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Showing scant respect for law, three youths were beaten up by some groups in broad daylight at different places in the city today.

Hinting the return of "gang war" at Shahi Mohalla, Ajay Kumar was beaten up by a group of youths armed with rods and sharp-edged weapons when he was passing through a market with a relative. He suffered serious injuries and was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

Devinder Singh, was attacked in the Kochar market by four youths. The accused dragged him to a shop, locked it from inside and beat him up. The victim suffered multiple injuries and was rushed to hospital.

In a similar incident in Jawahar Nagar, Dharminder Singh was attacked by another group of youths.



Freedom fighter’s son sees govt apathy over statue
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 3
Criticising successive governments for their “indifferent attitude” towards freedom fighters, Mr Devki Nandan Sharma, son of Devi Dyal of Lohatbaddi, a freedom fighter, has once again pursued the case for installing a statue of his father at one of the chowks in the town.

His mother, Lajwanti, who died last year, had appealed to the administration regarding the statue more than six years ago, which had approved the project.

However, the civic body authorities are yet to take a final decision, though they maintain that the process has already been initiated.

According to Mr Sharma, who called on the municipal authorities here, his mother had initiated the process for getting a statue of her husband installed at the local Dhulkot Chowk in 1999.

“It is a pity that a woman who inspired her husband to devote more time and energy for the freedom struggle had to die without getting her desire to see a statue of her husband installed in the town,” lamented Mr Sharma.

Though the Malerkotla SDM had submitted a no-objection report on April 12, 2000, the authorities concerned did not do the needful, alleged Mr Sharma.

The officer in charge, Local Fund Branch, Sangrur, had been directed by the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, to do the needful.

Mr Sharma said he had sought the intervention of the district administration at a Suvidha camp held last month. He was asked to contact the Deputy Commissioner’s office on January 6, which, he said, he would do. He has urged the president of the local municipal council to expedite the case.

Mr Jatinder Bhola, president of the council, said he had already directed the staff concerned to complete the formalities and the case would be presented at the business meeting for approval. 



Akali Dal launches poll campaign
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The Shiromani Akali Dal yesterday launched its election campaign for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections in 2007 from Raikot Vidhan Sabha segment represented by Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi. The junior Badal, Mr Sukhbir Singh, while addressing the gathering, declared that the next Vidhan Sabha elections would be a war against the Congress misrule in Punjab. The four-year rule of Captain Amarinder Singh had been a “reign of oppression and there was complete police raj in the state”.

Mr Sukhbir Singh said the Chief Minister was involved along with his relations in the oil-for-cash scam of Iraq in which Mr Natwar Singh and his son were involved. He sought an enquiry into the same.

Mr Sukhbir Singh also alleged that Punjab had witnessed a number of scams and the state government was part and parcel of the same. The land mafia was very active in the state with the help of the state government. Mr Sukhbir Singh said he was not a candidate for chief ministership of Punjab and his father, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would be the Chief Minister when Akalis came into power.

The general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal said the Akali Dal had declared a war against Captain Amarinder Singh and appealed to the people to oust the Congress government from Punjab. The war would continue for the whole year.

Captain Kanwaljit Singh, general secretary and former Finance Minister, also made a scathing attack on the Congress government in Punjab. He said the Congress government had done immense harm to the economy of the state.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, former president, SGPC also spoke.

Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, said that the SGPC would launch a dharam prachar movement in the state to check the evils of drug addiction and other social evils.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal also declared that Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi would be the Akali Dal nominee from Raikot Vidhan Sabha segment in the next elections.

Mr Bhag Singh Malha, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha and Mr Kewal Singh Badal were also present on this occasion.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal could not participate in the rally.



Awareness forum hails MPs’ expulsion
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The peoples awareness forum, an NGO, today hailed the expulsion of 11 members of parliament for their alleged involvement in the cash for questions scam.

The general body of the forum which met with Prof. Prithipal Singh Kapoor, president, in the chair also congratulated the speaker the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, and the Pawan Bansal committee for taking a bold stand against the corrupt practices of the elected representatives of the people who were supposed to protect the rights of the masses.

The forum demanded that such elements should be disqualified from contesting elections to the Vidhan Sabha and the Lok Sabha.

The forum thanked the media for exposing the evil designs of the elected representatives and stressed that there was need for further exposing such elements.



Sutluj Club fire loss put at Rs 4 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
While mystery still shrouds the cause of the fire that broke out in the sauna bath section of the Sutluj Club last night, the damage to property has been estimated at over Rs 4 lakh.

District Magistrate Anurag Verma, who is also president of the club, told Ludhiana Tribune that as per the assessment, equipment, furniture and infrastructure worth over Rs 4 lakh had been gutted in the fire. Last night, it was estimated that the fire had caused damage worth Rs 1 lakh only.

He has requisitioned the services of fire analysts to ascertain the exact cause of fire.

The analysts include experts in detecting fire from electric wires as well as from machines or some other causes.

He said he had deputed Deputy Director Local Bodies S.R. Kaler to supervise the inquiry proceedings.

He added that they were initially suspecting short-circuit as the cause of the fire. However, it was later found that the wires had been replaced just three months ago.

Divisional Fire Officer R.K. Sharma said their investigation so far could not pinpoint the cause of the fire.

He said it looked to be the result of a short-circuit but there could be other reasons also. He said the fire experts would furnish their report within few days.



Telecom staff protest continues
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The indefinite fast by the district secretary of the National Federation of Telecom Employees (NFTE), Mr Mohinder Parshad, against the alleged vindictive attitude of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) administration continued for the second day here today even as the General Manager of Ludhiana Telecom termed the agitation as unwarranted and unlawful.

The district council member of the union, Mr Harish Khanna, alleged that the authorities had deployed police force at the venue of the agitation in a bid to provoke employees and scuttle their fight against injustice. He, however, stated that the BSNL staff owing allegiance to the NFTE had been directed not to disrupt the working of the department so that consumers did not suffer in any manner.

In keeping with the decision of the district executive to intensify the struggle, another activist of the union, Mr Parshottam Singh, will also join the indefinite fast as the BSNL top brass did not appear to be in a mood for a negotiated settlement.

However, the Ludhiana Telecom General Manager, Mr G.S. Julka, refuted the charges levelled by the union activists. He said the dharna and fast resorted to by the NFTE was unlawful. The notice for the agitation was submitted by the union on Monday and an agitation was launched on the same day which went on to show that the union was not interested in talks across the table.

Mr Julka claimed that there were clear court orders against holding a dharna or protest within 200 metres of the Telecom headquarters, but the authorities had chosen not to go in for confrontation with the employees. He said even though the NFTE was a non-recognised union, still the administration was prepared to listen to the genuine problems of the employees and arrive at a negotiated settlement.



Rally by Class IV staff on Jan 25
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The Class IV Government Employees and Workers Union has decided to intensify its agitation in support of their demands by staging a district-level dharna at Civil Surgeon office here on January 25.

Addressing a meeting, union district general secretary Harbhajan Singh criticised the Congress government in Punjab led by Capt Amarinder Singh and charged him with playing a cruel joke with employees on the issue of time scale of 4-9-14 years.

The government was turning a blind eye to the demands of the employees, which had caused widespread resentment among the employees, he said.

Kaka Singh Bilaspur, who presided over the meeting, said a notice had been served on the health administration here over several pending demands.

He claimed that cases of recruitment on compassionate grounds had been hanging fire for years, class IV employees had not been given uniforms and seniority lists had not been prepared, which had led to denial of promotions.

Among others present at the meeting were Jagdev Singh, Kulwant Singh, Pritam Singh, Piara Singh, Gurmel Singh, Baldev Singh, Nachattar Singh, Ajit Singh and Charanjit Singh.



Rotarians celebrate New Year
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
Rotarians celebrated New Year with a cultural programme presented by student artistes from Dayanand Medical College and Hospital. They started with their humourous presentation “Bhaji da Viah” (marriage of cricketer Harbajan Singh) giving the audience peals of laughter.

The next item was on how people with different regional and socio - religious background try to serve Mother India — with the best of their intentions but with disastrous outcome. Two more items with a social message on the status of women and national integration were presented, which were appreciated by the audience.

Humourous poems and jokes were shared by a the Rotarians.



Singing semifinals held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The semifinals of a competition to find melodious voices among budding singers was held here today under the presidentship of Mr Ravinandan Sharma.

The competition was organised by the Kishore Memorial Society. “The competition is an effort to provide a proper platform to budding artistes,” said Mr Sharma.

More than 150 participants from Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Panchkula and Jalandhar among other places showcased their talent. The finals will be held at the Nehru Sidhant Kendra on January 22.



Cyclist killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 3
A cyclist was killed when a car and a three-wheeler hit his cycle. The police has registered a case under Sections 304-A, 279, 337, 338 and 423, IPC.

Rakesh Kumar of Jodha was going on his cycle when a car and a three-wheeler hit the cycle. He was crushed to death.

Office burgled

Some unidentified persons burgled the office of Cheema Cooperative Society at Cheema village and stole pesticides worth about Rs 37,350. The police has registered a case under Sections 457 and 380, IPC, on the statement of Mr Gurcharan Singh, secretary of the society. No arrest has been made so far.


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