L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Conman, who looted 28 persons in a year, held
He made victims drink drug-laced soft drinks
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
The city police today claimed to have arrested a notorious conman who had allegedly looted 28 people in one year only after tricking them into drinking drug laced soft drinks.

The modus operandi of the accused even led to the murder of a son of a head constable of Punjab police in December last year, when the youth unconscious after taking the soft drink, fell into water under a railway bridge.

SSP A S Rai told reporters that the accused identified as Inderjit Singh of Mukerian used to travel in his car and offer lift to prospective victims at highways. He would then serve them drug laced soft drinks. He took away the valuables and cash when the victim fell unconscious.

Later, he threw the victim on the road side. However, one of his victims, Sunil Kumar, son of Mr Purshotam Lal, head constable, died when the accused threw him under a railway over bridge, where water had accumulated.

The youth worked as a video movie maker. His death was considered an accident till the chemical examination report revealed he was drugged. Police sources said the cops then became alert about such a conman on the prowl.

SSP Rai said many of the victims did not even report the matter to the police. He has urged all the victims to come forward now to claim their dues.



PSEB employees’ robbery claim ‘false’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
A number of employees posted with the cash counter of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) at Katani Kalan village, near Sahnewal, could be in a spot of bother with a gang of criminals caught by the police today claiming they had snatched Rs 2000 from the employees two years ago whereas the victims had claimed the robbers took away more than Rs 2 lakh.

Claiming this at a press conference held here today, SSP A S Rai said the police was conducting an inquiry on whether the employees had pocketed the money or there were some other missing links in the case.

The three-member gang nabbed by the police turned out to be quite a catch with more than 10 cases of robbery and burglary, including the infamous Hira Jewellers daylight robbery, termed to be the handiwork of this gang.

Mr A S Rai and SP City-II D P Singh said the three gangsters were identified as Sukhwinder Singh, alias Kukku, Gurdeep Singh and Jagjiwan Singh.

They were active in the region for the past over two years and had managed to elude arrest even though the cops of different police stations of the state were after them.

Mr Rai said the significant achievement of the police, besides the nabbing of the accused was that the police has succeeded in recovering over Rs 40,000 cash from the accused, 470 gm of gold jewellery and 76 gram of silver jewellery from their possession.

The police has also seized three .315 country made pistols from their possession and eight cartridges.

The SSP said the criminals stuck to their stand that they had looted only about Rs 2000 from the cash counter at the PSEB, Katani Kalani, where power supply bills were deposited on April 4, 2004.

The FIR, however, stated that the robbers had decamped with over Rs 2 lakh after injuring a Sub-Divisional Officer.

PSEB employees had said in the FIR that the robbers were three in number. An accountant was on the counter when two of three robbers ordered him to hand over cash at gunpoint. SDO Megh Raj Goyal was hurt in the robbery while trying to save the money.

The SSP said the robbers had confessed of looting several liquor vends in Sahnewal, a petrol pump near Khassi Kalan village and some other snatchings and robberies at co-operative societies.



Recarpeting of roads under scanner
Some residents claim roads were in good condition
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
The recarpeting of roads in New Vishwakarma Nagar has come under a scanner with some residents alleging that the existing roads were in good condition and the Municipal Corporation was wasting funds on the project.

The residents alleged that the project, worth lakhs of rupees, was allegedly "aimed at helping some contractors by the area councillor."

In a complaint to Commissioner of MC, Mr Rachpal Singh Brar, former president of New Vishwakarma Nagar Welfare Society, said the work of pulling roads was in progress at a fast pace. He demanded an inquiry into the case.

Following his complaint, Mr Vikas Partap, Commissioner marked an inquiry into the case to Joint Commissioner (B), Mr Ashok Bajaj. He visited the spot in the morning and took stock of the situation.

Talking to the Tribune over the phone, Mr Bajaj said that he had to visit Chandigarh for an urgent meeting and he could not study the case properly. He added that he would go there in the morning and take all the files pertaining to the case along. Only then he would be able to comment on anything.

When asked whether the roads were in good condition, Mr Bajaj said that the road was dug and he could not say whether it was done by the labour or not. "I will submit my report to the Commissioner tomorrow. My inquiry will look into all the angels," he said.

Mr Kamardeep Singh Pappi, husband of area councillor, Ms Ravinder Kaur, said that only one resident who was allegedly encroaching upon the road was raising such objections. He added that Mr Rachpal Singh Brar, who was a complainant in the case had constructed toilets on the road.

Mr Pappi said that the residents were having a tough time due to old road that was not recarpeted for the last seven years. The residents have started a signature campaign in favour of recarpeting, he claimed.

The complainant, Mr Brar, however, refuted the allegations stating that his encroachment was razed by the MC five years ago. He said he had told everything to the Joint Commissioner, who visited the area today and showed him the old road which was in perfectly good condition.

"They were trying to pressurise the Joint Commissioner, who came there. I do not know what do all do now. But I really want to save the public exchequer's money as it can be utilised where residents actually require recarpeted roads," said Mr Brar.



Badal says he will not to be vindictive
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
Shiromani Akali Dal president and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said that his government would not resort to vindictive measures against Capt Amarinder Singh. However, he said this should not mean that the charges of corruption would not be investigated against him.

Talking to The Tribune here yesterday, Mr Badal claimed that they (if government if his party comes to power) would be fair in finding out truth.

When asked about his reaction to the claims of the Chief Minister that he (Mr Badal) would go to jail, Mr Badal retorted, "no Chief Minister has any powers to jail anyone...at best he can book someone and get cases registered and he (Capt Amarinder) has already exhausted that option".

However, Mr Badal added, "I think he (Capt Amarinder) will himself go to the jail in the defamation case as he is currently on bail".

He pointed out, "the government has levelled the charges that I have amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 3500 crores, but so far have not been able to procure evidence for a single penny".

He said his government would prove the charges against the corrupt people of the present government. However, he did not take any names.

The SAD president denied that he had ever made any claims of the Congress legislators joining his party. He said, "What for do we require them as we would be having our own majority only after six months from now".

Mr Badal spelt out the agenda of his party for the forthcoming elections. His government would take the services of some eminent planners and economists to launch the state on a path of development.



BSNL employees leave for Parliament
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 2
At least 700 activists from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited Employees Union (BSNLEU) and 300 from Sanchar Nigam Executive Association (SNEA) from Punjab circle left for parliament (New Delhi) today to voice their demands.

Com. Balbir Singh, Circle Secretary BSNL Employees Union, Punjab Circle said that organisations of executive and non-executive employees of two telecom PSUs-BSNL and MTNL have come together in defense of the PSUs continued viability. Under the banner of Joint Forum of BSNL and MTNL unions, 12 organisations are marching towards Parliament for the settlement of various issues.

The agitating employees demand that there should be no disinvestment of BSNL/MTNL, no bundling of local loop, no sharing of BSNL/MTNL infrastructure with private operators, no increase in FDI, no reduction in revenue sharing and ADC, immediate navratna status to BSNL, grant autonomy to BSNL and MTNL, expansion of mobile and broad band services and early and amicable settlement of ITS absorption issue.



Langar by Durga Sewa Dal
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 2
Thousands of devotes and Naina Devi Shrine pilgrims enjoyed 7-day langar organized by the local unit of Durga Sewa Dal at Jagera Bridge near here.

According to Mr Kedar Nath Kapila and Ramesh Dheer, patron and president of the organization, the langar had been arranged with donations from residents of local town and surrounding village.

“Besides providing nutritious food to the pilgrims, the volunteers arranged cots and beds for those who wanted to stay overnight here,” told Mr Kedar Nath Kapila. The office-bearers claimed that cleanliness was maintained to the satisfaction of authorities.

Officials of various departments visited the langar from time to time. Mr Jagjit Singh Jajj, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Mr Jatinder Bhola, President MC, Mr Kishori Lal Badhan, former president, Mr Ravinder Kumar, president City Congress, coordinated with the volunteers today.



Immigration scam: one arrested
Our Correspondent

Raikot, August 2
The local police has arrested Balaur Singh who had been duping innocent people on the pretext of sending them abroad on the basis of fake travel documents.

While some of his ‘‘clients’’ successfully entered certain less desired countries, others had to return to their native places empty handed.

A large number of travel documents, including 17 passports, some of them fake, were seized from his possession.

The accused has been booked under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC, Section 3 of the Immigration Act and Section 12 of the Indian Passport Act.

The duped farmers have started approaching the police in order to get their money back and also to get compensation for the harassment and frustration faced by them in India and abroad.

‘‘Besides suffering financial loss I was made to face humiliation, when authorities at Russian airport did not allow me enter the country and I was made to return to India,’’ one of his ‘clients’, Jalaur told the police. Jalaur had been asking Balaur to return his money since then. But instead of returning the money Balaur assured him that he would be sent to some other western country soon.

According Mr Gurtejinder Singh Aulakh, DSP, Raikot, Balaur Singh, son of Gulzar Singh of Jaladiwal village, had been nabbed by a police party led by Mr Ranjit Singh, SHO, as he was trying to leave the town for New Dehli for allegedly getting fake travel documents prepared.

The police had received secret information that a gang led by Balaur Singh had been allegedly duping innocent persons, mostly farmers, for the past 15 years.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Balaur Singh had duped hundreds of innocent farmers and youth living in suburban areas. ‘‘As some of his clients had succeeded in getting some menial jobs in foreign countries, people started believing that he would be able to send them to European countries,’’ said Mr Aulakh while talking to the Ludhiana Tribune.

Mr Aulakh disclosed that the accused used to get travel documents prepared in connivance with officials serving in various embassies. ‘‘The victims fell prey to the swindler as only a part of the settled payment was asked for in the initial stages. Even if the aspirants refused to pay the full amount before leaving for the destination, they were allowed to board the plane," informed Mr Aulakh.

‘‘In case someone insisted on a refund he was made to wait for some more time after which another attempt was made to send him abroad. He returned the money very rarely," said Mr Aulakh.

Referring to information received from Ranjit Singh, SHO, Mr Aulakh disclosed that the accused had been transacting this ‘‘business’’ for more than 15 years and on an average he had been sending two aspirants abroad per month. Thus more then 400 youth had been duped by him.



Sketch maker in soup for cooking up attack case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
The Division No 7 police yesterday claimed that a former sketch maker of the police department had allegedly cooked up a tale of being attacked by some criminals two days ago in order to take police security.

SHO Balbir Singh told the Ludhiana Tribune that the ballastic and forensic experts have reported that the sketch maker, Jai Kumar, had wrongly claimed that a gunfire shot had broken his window pane. The report about the two-day old incident received today said the pane had been broken by a stone.

The SHO said investigation has also found it wrong that Jai Kumar was attacked. He said the police would take action against him for furnishing a false complaint to the police. He said first of all the case lodged by him would be cancelled and a fresh case would be registered against him.

Jai Kumar had shook the police department by claiming that he was targeted by a gang of four criminals, because the gangsters were caught after he had drawn their sketches.



Child-selling gang active in city

Ludhiana, August 2
Close on the heels of the exposure of a gang of women and self-styled doctors selling new born babies in Focal Point, the Basti Jodhewal police has booked three other women for selling infants in Basti Jodhewal.

The police has registered an FIR against three women identified as Sushma of Shakti Nagar, Salma and Manju of Basti Jodhewal. They were booked on specific complaints and police investigation. They were, however, yet to be arrested.

Police sources said the three women were acting as agents between some RMPs and persons needing children. They allegedly cheated migrant women claiming their child was born dead. TNS



Fidelity to launch fixed income mutual fund
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
Fidelity Fund Management Private Limited today announced that it would start fixed income business with the launch of its short-term income fund within a fortnight.

Mr Ashu Suyash, Managing Director and Country Head, Fidelity Fund Management Private Limited, said: “All investors should consider spreading their investments across several different classes of asset in order to provide the right balance of risk and reward. The core asset classes are equities, fixed income and cash. By launching the short-term income fund, we will be able to offer all three asset classes to Indian investors. Our fixed income investment process places the same strong emphasis on research that we apply to equity investment. Fixed income assets are a good diversifier of equity market risk and should find a place in investors’ portfolios as they look to build balanced portfolios.”

The company said its endeavour was to offer investors a wide range of investment solutions. The new fixed income approach is unique to the Indian market, it said. Giving details of the fund, Mr Suyash said it is an open-ended income scheme that aims to generate reasonable returns through a diversified portfolio of fixed income securities.

He said short-term income funds provided a great alternative to volatile equity markets. The fund would play into the current steepness of the yield curve from a risk-return perspective.

The product, he said, would offer an opportunity to investors to earn reasonable returns over shorter periods of time even as their overall portfolio works towards creating wealth over the long term. The fund would have an institutional and non-institutional plan and each plan would offer growth and dividend options.



Blanket manufacturers sore with govt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 2
Irked with the Punjab Government for not abolishing Value-Added Tax (VAT) on polar blankets, local manufactures have threatened to shift their units to Haryana if an action is not taken in this regard within 15 days.

Over 50 manufacturers said today that more than 20 manufacturers had already shifted their units to neighbouring states ever since VAT was imposed.

“Since polar blanket is low priced, starting from Rs 50, we essentially cater to the weaker section of society. In case of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, no VAT is imposed due to which our prices have increased,” rued Mr Shakti Jaggi, president, Ludhiana Textile Association.

The manufacturers said it was in August 2005 that the government brought “blanket of any kind” under the purview of VAT. After various representations, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, announced that blankets and shawls would be exempted from VAT. He said the department concerned had issued instructions, but due to misinterpretation the VAT exemption was passed on only in case of “shoddy blankets” and not to all kinds of blankets.

“Since manufacturing of polar blanket is a manual process, each unit engages nearly 100 workers. If units shift, there would be massive unemployment as well,” said Mr Jaggi.

Narrating their woes, the manufacturers said due to the imposition of VAT the price of blanket manufactured by them increased by nearly 10 per cent as a result buyers had stopped coming to them.



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