Tuesday, January 23, 2001,
Chandigarh, India
L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Illegal immigrants being sent out as singers 
Names of Punjabi pop stars figure in probe
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — The name of Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans, has come up during the investigation of an immigration fraud by the police. It has also been revealed that several “fake singers” had managed to go overseas by showing cassettes with altered covers to give credence to their identity.

The Economic Offences Wing of the district police has now decided to investigate the role of popular Punjabi singers in the immigration racket. There has been no proof of the direct involvement of any pop star so far. However, the police has decided to find more about the role played by Hans Raj Hans in arranging a compromise between Harjit Singh, a complainant, and Maninder Gill, one of the accused.

The DSP, Mr Satish Malhotra, showed reluctance to talk about the case, initially. Later, he said the case was more complex than what the police had thought earlier. The DSP denied that any summons had been issued to the singer, but said that the police might question him on the allegations.

Meanwhile, the complainant has revealed the modus operandi of the members of the gang that sends these “fake singers” abroad. Harjit Singh had accused a Canada-based music promoter, Maninder Gill, of cheating him to the tune of Rs 5 lakh. Three witnesses — Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, a Youth Congress leader, Mr Parminder Singh Sidhu and Mr Chhinderpal Singh — claimed that Gill had taken the money from Harjit Singh in their presence in June 1999. Gill had allegedly got some cassette covers printed in his name with his photographs on these to show that Harjit was a Punjabi singer. The songs in the cassette were originally sung by someone else.

Harjit has already lodged a complaint against Gill at the Model Town police station here. Gill has been accused of including prospective immigrants in troupes of music artistes that he often sends to Canada. Reportedly, Harjit was to be sent to Canada in a similar manner, but when he could not, Gill allegedly refused to return the money.

Harjit claimed he could reveal the names of at least five leading Punjabi singers, who along with Maninder, used to send aspiring immigrants called “kabootars” to Canada. One of these singer lives in Phagwara.

Harjit said, a few days ago, a popular Punjabi folk singer had contacted one of his relatives on his cell phone and had offered to mediate between Gill and him. The meeting was arranged in the office of a Jalandhar-based vernacular daily. Gill “promised” to return the money, but on the condition that Harjit withdrew the FIR. Harjit said he had accepted the proposal he had only wanted his money back. However, Gill “backed out” at the last moment.

Maninder Singh Gill had denied the allegations at a press conference in Chandigarh a couple of days ago. He had said the local police had implicated him in a false case.

The cassettes with Harjit’s picture on the cover were produced in the Canadian High Commission at the time of the interview for procuring the visa. Harjit also took classes to learn music, so that he could sing before the interview panel if he was asked to do so.

Meanwhile, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldeep Singh, said here today that the police had launched a massive hunt and alerted all airports in the country to ensure that Maninder Gill did not flee the country.

Harjit said his passport was still with Gill and he had been receiving threatening calls from a person called Pumma who said he had abducted a foreign diplomat earlier.



DSP accused of high-handedness
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — A city-based family today alleged high-handedness by a Punjab Police DSP, based at Chandigarh, who “used his position to get a false case of forcible abortion of their married daughter registered against them.

While the DSP could not be contacted, Mr Warryam Singh, SHO police station, Haibowal, where the said case was registered, has denied the accusation and asserted that the allegations against the family were true as per his investigation. He in fact alleged that the accused family was trying to pressurise the police by levelling such allegations.

Notwithstanding the allegations and counter-allegations in the case, one interesting component which is likely to be investigated in detail later by the police is whether the police can register a case against a woman or her parents for a willing termination of the pregnancy.

Addressing a press conference here today, Amarjit Singh Walia and Baljit Walia, the father and brother of the woman, Sonia, today alleged that a Chandigarh-based DSP was using his clout to implicate them in a false case so that they (the girl’s family) withdraw the case registered against the DSP and his family.

Giving the background of the case, the father revealed that her daughter Sonia was married to Vikas Walia, son of the DSP, on May 30, 1999. He also gave proof of dowry given to the in-laws during the ring ceremony and marriage. However, after the marriage the girl was allegedly tortured and maltreated by the in-laws for more dowry. They claimed they tried to meet the demands but the in-laws continued to harass their daughter.

The girl, subsequently, was forced to come back to the parents house in the city in May last year and no articles of her ‘istridhan’ were returned. The family complained to the police and a case under sections 406,498-A, 323,120-B against the in-laws was registered. The girl had also alleged that she was continuously kicked and beaten by her in-laws. She complained that due to the sufferings and the alleged physical torture, the girl had a miscarriage and was treated in a city hospital.

However, later, the DSP allegedly using his influence, got a counter case registered against the complaining family. The father and son alleged that the in-laws complained to the police that the girl had got abortion without the consent of her husband and in-laws. The Haibowal police subsequently registered a case and the father and son were arrested by the police.

Later they were released on bail. The family is demanding immediate cancellation of the case registered against it and has also demanded action against the DSP.



Students thrown out of moving bus 
From Our Correspondent

DORAHA, Jan 22 — Two students of Guru Nanak National College of Doraha were allegedly beaten up by a conductor of a PRTC bus and some other persons when they tried to board the bus today.

According to the reports available, Arun and Rajan, first-year commerce students of the college, who had the PRTC bus passes, were about to board the bus (PB-02W-9992) from Ludhiana when the conductor stopped them. When the students persisted and boarded the bus, the conductor and some other persons allegedly attacked them and pushed them out of the moving bus. This caused minor injuries to students, who then lodged a complaint against the conductor at the Sherpur police post.

There have been reports of students being harassed by conductors of private buses earlier as well. Many complaints have been lodged in this regard. A similar incident had taken place on October 27 past year. 


10-year RI in dowry death case
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — The District and Sessions Judge, Mr S.S. Arora, today sentenced a man to 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,00,000 in a dowry death case while acquitting the convict’s parents in the case.

The convict Arun Garg had killed his wife Seema Garg by administering her some poisonous substance. A case was registered on March 28, 1999, at the civil lines police station here in the city.

It was alleged in the complaint by the victim’s father, Mr Ramesh Chander Bansal, that although he had given Rs 2,00,000 in cash, sufficient jewellery and furniture as dowry to the in-laws of his daughter in the wedding, his daughter was harassed and subsequently killed. Mr Bansal stated before the court that their demands started increasing, which resulted in the death of his daughter. 


VLCC told to refund slimming charges
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — In a unique case, probably the first of its kind reported in the city, the District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has directed Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves, Mall Road, Ludhiana, to refund the amount of Rs 8,344 to Ms Reena Singla, failing which, the said amount would be recoverable with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum.

Ms Singla, a resident of Sunam, joined a slimming course for reducting 10 kg and two aroma body massages. She paid Rs 10,150 for the purpose. The complainant alleged that the treatment given by the centre created some side effects. She requested soon for a refund of the said amount. But the opposite party refused to refund the said amount in a letter written to the complainant on July 4, 1999.

The slimming centre stated in the letter that only Rs 8,344 could be adjusted against a beauty course that she would have to take up. The complainant alleged that even her husband visited the opposite party for refund but they refused and insisted that she take the beauty course. The husband of the complainant gave a registered notice on May 5, 2000, for the refund of the amount, but the opposite party failed to do so.

The opposite party pleaded that the complainant had no locus standi to file the complaint since there was no privacy of contract between Ms Singla and the company. The opposite party alleged that the complaint had been filed by the complainant to extract money from the company and to malign its image.

VLCC stated before the forum that Ms Singla joined the package on March 30, 1999, and had sessions between March 30, 1999 to July 4, 1999 and lost 2.15 kg of weight with fluctuation, as recorded in the card. After that, the complainant approached the Slimming Manager and demanded refund of the amount paid by her. But the said demand could not be met as the amount deposited was non-refundable and non-adjustable. The opposite party stated that this was clearly mentioned on the certificate/declaration of the respondent, which had been duly signed by her. However, the slimming centre agreed to adjust the balance amount of Rs 8,344 in a beauty package in the letter to the complainant on July 4, 1999.

The forum observed that the complainant was a consumer and it was not desirable that when she had not availed services for the full amount paid, the opposite party should be allowed to retain the balance amount. The forum held that the opposite party was bound to refund the amount of Rs 8,344 and she could not be compelled to join the beauty course.


Another accused in Avtar case held
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — Parveen Kumar, another accused in the infamous Avtar Singh murder case was today arrested by the police from a checkpost near Bharat Nagar Chowk. According to the police, he was hiding ever since the sordid incident.

Before his arrest here, he was hiding in Kalerwalia village in Majitha district. He was apprehended by the police this afternoon.

Parveen Kumar employed as an ASI with the Punjab police was posted as a gunman with Gurmeet Singh, alias Pinki, the main accused in the Avtar Singh murder case.



Roadside Entrepreneurs 
They string flowers for Gods
By Asha Ahuja

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — One has to admire different roadside entrepreneurs who find different ways and means to earn their livelihood. One such person is Ramesh Kumar who sits outside a temple in Model Town. He brings marigold flowers and roses from the wholesale flower market and strings them into what is commonly known as hars. The flowers change with season. Ramesh Kumar says: "We use seasonal flowers for stringing hars. In the winter season, flowers are no problems. We get marigold, rose, tube rose and chrysanthemum (in the early winters) and the flowers remain fresh for longer periods. We earn better in winters than in summers."

There are many roadside florists like Ramesh Kumar. One can see them outside gurdwaras and temples. These days they have become even more enterprising as they have started selling cut flowers like gladiolus and other seasonal flowers.

Vijay Kumar, another garland seller, says: "We sell more garlands during the weddings. We make special jaimalas. Those garlands take longer time to string, so we charge more money for them. Then people want hars for milnee. We have our lean seasons, too, specially during summer. We have problems findings flowers for garlands. Motia, chameli, chandani flowers are available. But they perish very fast and we have to suffer loss. Still I am very happy doing my own thing. When my children tell me to take a day off, I do take, but never on Monday, Tuesday and Friday. On these days, the maximum number of devotees throng temples. These days, I make a brisk sale of cut flowers too. I find peace as I keep listening to the bhajans while making garlands. My wife has also learnt to make jaimala. She brings additional money."

There are about 5,000 garland makers in the city. They help themselves by helping others. Their job is tough and taxing as they have to concentrate while piercing the flowers to make garlands. One satisfaction that gives them courage to face inclement weather is the feeling of self-sufficiency and being their own masters.


A city of garbage dumps 
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — Never has Ludhiana appeared so filthy and dirty as now a days. There is hardly any street which appears to be free from garbage, stray dogs, cattle and pigs.

The Civil Lines area has become uncivil. There is a huge garbage dump near the Khalsa College for Women. What is very ludicrous is that on both sides of the dump there are big signboard displaying, ‘‘Keep Ludhiana clean.’’ Between the two signboard lie peels, plastic bags, rotten vegetables and fruits, dead rats and other kind of rubbish.

Talking to a few residents of the area, it was found out that everyone was sick of the garbage dumps. Ms Manjula Jain said, "I know that the Municipal Corporation should keep the city clean but I also feel that the residents have to cooperate. They should put the biodegradable and non-biodegradable garbage in separate bags. The stray animals feed on the garbage and roam around freely in the city causing diseases."

As one travels further down the Civil Lines, one sees a lot of people dumping the garbage on the roadside and this is just right in front of the clinics of the dentists. Mr Deepak Singal of the Ludhiana Citizen Health Council also advises people to help the corporation to keep the city clean. He says, "It has to be a joint effort of the people and the corporation. Unless and until people become civic minded, the Municipal Corporation can never succeed in its efforts."

"Ludhianvis have to fight the menace of garbage on war footing if they want the city to be free of disease. Every citizen has to do its own bit to keep the city free of rubbish" said Mr Amar Singh, a resident of Field Ganj.


Cinema hall needs to be spruced up
From Our Correspondent

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — The state of certain cinema halls in the city is miserable. Lack of civic amenities, proper parking facilities, dirty condition of ticket counters, filthy toilets, torn seats, stale eatables, improper seating arrangement and lack of proper ventilation add to chaos and nuisance in majority of cinema halls here.

Deepak Cinema, one of the oldest theatres in the city, has now turned 50. The cinema-owners do not provide proper parking facilities to cine-goers. The parking capacity of the hall is inadequate. People park all sorts of vehicles at one place. Sometimes when a movie is a crowd-puller, people park their cars in adjacent streets, leading to problems for residents.

The manager of the cinema hall, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune, said, “we agree that parking problem is there. But the cinema hall was constructed in 1951. Then the parking space was sufficient. Due to less parking space we try not to put big budget films in the theatre and avoid any kind of chaos and nuisance”.

The cinema has four toilets. The condition of the toilets is filthy. However, one of the ladies toilets was locked. An attendant complained, “Nowadays, the cinema hall is showing English (for adults) movie and there are no woman viewers. If we unlock the ladies toilet, the menfolk use it and make it dirty. We can not stop them”. The condition of these toilets is pathetic. Paan spits can be seen in the toilets. However, the management claimed to wash toilets with phenyl and odonil regularly. One of the attendants said, “We keep on cleaning the toilets but the labourers come and spit anywhere they like. We are helpless.”

The cinema hall has been continuously exhibiting adult movies. When the authorities were asked to comment on this, they said the English movies were quite cheap. Even the old Hindi movies a costly compared to English movies.

There are 12 drinking taps in the theatre — most of these being sticky and dirty. Algae is deposited everywhere near the drinking water taps.

The cinema management has put on eight exhaust fans and eight fire cylinders to avoid any mishap. The manager said, “The ceasefire cylinders are changed every year and for this we get a licence from the administration”.


Demonstration by DMC employees
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — Employees of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital today staged a demonstration in support of various demands. According to Mr Chendermohan Kalia, president of DMC Employees Association, they had held a similar demonstration on January 16 and submitted a memorandum to the administration listing various demands.

The employees have been demanding promotion, gazetted holidays for Class IV employees, summer and winter break in all departments, enhancement of medical allowance from Rs 25 per month to Rs 250 as given by the government and issuing of a seniority list for ensuring transparency.

Employees also alleged that the management had been appointing people for the Heart Centre, being inaugurated on February 16, on a contract-basis, which was against service rules.


Alternative use of potato suggested
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — Punjab Agricultural University experts have suggested an alternative use of potatoes as replacement for cereals in cattle feed. According to Dr Jasbir Singh Chawla, Head, Deptt of Animal Nutrition, PAU, experiments conducted at the university have clearly revealed that on a dry-matter-basis waste/undersip/cut potatoes were found to contain about 13 per cent crude protein. These were relished by both cows and buffaloes. There was no adverse effect of feeding potatoes to buffalo calves in the long run. Cereal grains of concentrated mixture can be replaced fully by offering 6-8 kg of fresh potatoes daily in dairy animals.

Dr Chawla further said that about 0.2 to 0.3 million metric tonne of potatoes in cold stores had been rendered unfit for human consumption. As a result of the crash in potato prices the situation had worsened during the current year. The crisis could be partially solved by incorporating fresh, as well as waste potatoes of cold storage in the ration of dairy animals, he added.


Police to get tough with bad elements
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — Facing bitter criticism for the recent incidents of crime in the city, the police has geared up for ensuring that such incidents do not happen in future. A meeting of police officials held this afternoon after taking stock of the crime scene also took a number of decisions to maintain law and order.

According to insiders, the Senior Superintendent of Police has issued a stern warning to all the officials, especially the SHOs, that he would not tolerate any kind of laxity on the part of the police in dealing with crime incidents or during their investigation. Without mincing words, the SSP is reported to have told the SHOs that disciplinary action against them would be imminent if they failed to curb the incidence of crime or was lax while dealing with the goonda elements.

The SSP, who, according to sources, was upset with the spurt in crime incidents, also warned the police officials of making any contact with persons who as per the police records had shaddy character. He issued directions that in no case should the police allow the anti-social elements to hold the city to ransom by organising bandhs and traffic jams as had happened in the recent past.

The police has also stepped up vigil in the city. According to the latest move, special police parties were being posted at several sensitive areas to prevent any kind of untoward incident. The police parties, consisting of 12 police personnel each, would be specially keeping an eye at the sensitive spots in Ghanta Ghar, Chaura Bazar, New Sabji Mandi and Gur Mandi along with other troublesome areas.

The police has in order to establish more faith among the public of the police force also started holding of such meetings at the police station level. Besides these, it has started intensive patrolling of the city on the motor cycles.

The police has also, meanwhile, started a special checking drive. Not only the vehicles and the drivers were being checked, the police has also began searching pedestrians.


Woman harassed for dowry ends life
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — A woman today committed suicide in the city allegedly because of being unable to suffer torture at the hands of her in-laws.

According to a case registered with Model Town police station here, deceased Raj Kumari died after consuming some poisonous tablets allegedly because she was being harassed regularly by her husband Chander Vir and mother-in-law Puran Devi to bring more dowry.

Complainant Om Sharan, brother of the woman said that his sister was married to Chander Vir about three years back but she was constantly harassed for bringing more dowry. He alleged that she was also being beaten up regularly.


Inspector suspended
Tribune News Service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — The SSP, Mr Kuldip Singh, today suspended Inspector Rajeshwar Singh with immediate effect following charges against him of having helped certain anti-social elements.

Confirming this, Mr Kuldip Singh said he has got substantial proof of the Inspector's link with certain anti-social elements especially one absconding person. It is being alleged that due to the dubious role played by him, he managed to flee just before a police party was to raid his house.


Govt reminded of octroi issue
Tribune News service

LUDHIANA, Jan 22 — The Akali-BJP coalition government has failed to abolish octroi in the state that they had promised in their manifestoes at the time of elections. The trading community had voted for the BJP and Akali candidates expecting that after coming to power the government would abolish this age-old taxation system which was quite retrogressive in nature and created hurdles in the smooth functioning of trade in the state.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the Ludhiana Cloth Merchants Association held in the Guru Nanak complex, Gujaramal Road, here. Mr Surinder Singh Makkar, newly elected President of the association, while addressing the members, said: ‘‘At the time of elections both the ruling parties had promised to abolish octroi. On the contrary, the octroi rates had been raised manifold in recent years. The privatisation of octroi posts had resulted in unnecessary harassment of traders and transporters.’’

He further said while the neighbouring states such as Delhi had already abolished octroi. Recently, the Gujarat Government had also decided to do away with octroi, but the Punjab Government was dithering away from its promise. Earlier it had privatised the octroi system and now it was talking about again introducing the old pattern of octroi collection. Such moves will serve no purpose.

Mr Avtar Singh Manchanda, President, Guru Nanak complex, said: ‘‘There are more than 500 wholesale cloth merchants in the city alone. The government should evolve alternative sources for compensating the local bodies which are mostly dependent on octroi. We oppose the octroi not because of financial burden on traders and consumers, but because we are harassed by the officials at the octroi posts. A lot of time is wasted at the octroi posts, besides creating traffic jams. Further, there is a lot of corruption in the octroi collection. We are ready to pay the same amount in alternative tax system, provided we are not harassed.’’

Mr Amarjit Singh, alias Pappi Kakkar, another trader, alleged that a large section of the traders were being exploited by the transporters in connivance with octroi officials. About 20 trucks of cloth came to the city daily, having roughly 100 consignments in each truck. The traders had to collect the material from Transport Nagar by paying Rs 250 per consignment as octroi charges to the transporters, though no octroi bill was given to them.

On the other hand, he pointed out about 60 to 70 trucks of knitting and other cloth items were transported to Delhi daily. Since there was no octroi in the national Capital, so the transporters would collect the material from individual manufacturers and would deliver to the party at their doorsteps by charging just Rs 100 per consignment as labour and delivery charges.

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