Tuesday, March 27, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Wheat worth Rs 500 cr rotting in the open
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The lack of transport facilities and demand for wheat in the domestic and international market at the ‘required rates’, and the discriminatory policy of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), may result in more than Rs 500 crore loss to the state exchequer as more than 56 lakh tonnes of wheat was rotting in open spaces in the state due to lack of inadequate storage capacity.

The five employees unions, the Food Supply Department, Markfed, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, PUNSUP and Punjab Agro in a joint memorandum to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, have asked him to intervene immediately, otherwise the government agencies would become permanently sick and the state would lose more than Rs 500 crore as most of the openly stored wheat had already been damaged. It was not even fit for animal consumption, what to talk of human consumption, said the union leaders.

Interestingly, out of the total 92 lakh tonnes of wheat stored in the state by the five state procurement agencies, only 52 lakh tonnes have been stored under the covered area. According to the agriculture experts, the covered area was also nothing more than the transit stores where the foodgrains can be kept at the most for 3-4 months. Surprisingly, about 5 lakh and 25 lakh tonnes of wheat purchased in 1998-99 and 1999-2000, respectively, was rotting in the open spaces. The agencies were forced to keep the wheat in the open that had been purchased even four to five years ago.

Mr Krishan Sangruri, President, Punjab employees union , PUNSUP, disclosed to The Tribune that PUNSUP was paying Rs 5 crore as interest to the banks every month. The other agencies had also taken loans from the banks to procure the wheat from the farmers. He alleged due to the discriminatory policy of the FCI officials, the wheat was rotting in the open spaces.

He said, “The wheat lying in the open since three to four years has been affected by the rains and heat. The over-usage of insecticides was further making it unfit for consumption. But the FCI officials were not allowing it’s transportation to the other states.”

Mr Ashwani Kumar, spokesperson of the coordination committee of the unions, alleged the FCI had almost cleared all its stocks by transporting them to other states and had decided not to purchase the wheat on a large scale during this season. The state agencies would not be in a position to purchase the wheat if the present stocks were not lifted.

Mr Sangruri alleged the FCI was openly violating ‘first come and first out’ (FIFO) policy. Between January and February, 2001, though 57.59 lakh tonnes of wheat had been transported from the state to the Central pool, including 21.32 lakh tonnes of stocks of the FCI, a large part of wheat stocks of the state agencies were rotting in the open. The unions have sent a copy of the memorandum to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission also, urging it to direct the state to save the future of the agencies and employees by taking care of the rotting wheat. 


BKU rejects MSP of wheat, stir to continue
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana March 26
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), while terming the increase of Rs 30 per quintal in minimum support price (MSP) of wheat as its achievement, has rejected the same on the grounds that the price was unremunerative and a cruel joke with the farming community.

The BKU Secretary-General, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, said in a statement here today that it was due to immense pressure built up by the BKU and other farmers’ bodies that the government had affected a slight increase in the support price of wheat, even though the Commissions for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) had recommended for a cut in the MSP of wheat by Rs 60 per quintal.

To drive home the point that the price of Rs 610 per quintal for wheat announced by the Union Government was far too low, Mr Kadian recalled that the Punjab Government had demanded the MSP at Rs 735 per quintal on the basis of a report by experts that the cost of production was Rs 665 per quintal.

The BKU activists called upon the state government to take necessary steps to compensate the farmers for a shortfall of Rs 125 per quintal and take up the matter with the Union Government to fix the prices of farm produce on the basis of price index.

The BKU, he added, would continue the agitation and launch a nation-wide stir from April 13, as announced by the national President, Choudhry Mohinder Singh Tikait, here last week, till the government revised the prices of farm produce to a reasonable level and the farmers were safeguarded from impending adverse effects of the WTO and GATT agreements.


Liquor vends’ auction postponed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The Excise Department officials today postponed the auction of liquor vends in Ludhiana I, II and III districts as they claimed the attendance of contractors was low and it might have affected the revenue. However, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, Congress legislator from Samrala and liquor contractor, alleged that the auction was postponed at the behest of the Minister for Excise and Taxation Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, who wanted lion’s share for his own people.

The auction was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. today and hundreds of liquor contractors from different parts of the state and neighbouring states converged on the spot. Notwithstanding the claims of the department about poor attendance, considerable number of people had come to participate in the auction, which was later postponed. The excise officials said the new date would be announced later and it would be held before March 31. Huge contingent of police was deployed at the venue.

There was resentment among the contractors, who smelled a rat in the last-minute postponement of the auction. The contractors alleged that the department officials during their overnight meeting with them, asserted that the revenue collections this year should be at least at a par with that of last year at Rs 216 crore. Mr Dhillon said this was not possible since the liquor contractors had faced a cumulative loss of Rs 50 crore during the past year. He demanded that the liquor contractors in Ludhiana should be provided relief this year.

Stressing the need for bringing down revenue collection limit, contractors pointed out during the last two years, Ludhiana registered a phenomenal increase of 34 per cent. The government should be generous enough to relax the targets this year. However, some licensees like Mr Bhupinder Singh Khatra appreciated the department’s decision to postpone the auction. Without identifying anyone, he alleged that there were some people who could have created trouble and even held people to ransom by bullying tactics.

Talking to reporters, the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, maintained silence over the postponement of the auction and said he would have to talk to the department officials before commenting. He did not agree that there was not good response to the auction. He claimed that the Excise Department had registered an increase of Rs 100 crore revenue during the last year and he expected the same to be repeated this year form the sale of liquor.

He refuted the charges that it was at his behest that auction was postponed since he could not succeed in accommodating his people in Ludhiana. He also clarified that he had no special purpose or motive in being present here at the time of auction, but it was as a routine matter as he had attended it everywhere in the state.

Claiming that there would be good increase in revenue from auction in Ludhiana, Mr Kairon disclosed that response in all the places where the auction was held earlier has been very good. Everywhere the revenue was enhanced and there was every reason that it would increase in Ludhiana also.

However, the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr S.S. Makkar, who was to preside over the auction, agreed that the department felt that due to the lack of enthusiasm among contractors the attendance was less and it could lead to loss of revenue. He said, during the overnight meeting between the department officials and the licensees it was felt that it might have effected the revenue after reading the mood of the licenses. He refused to comment on whether the apprehension of law and order problem was one of the reasons for postponing the auction.

He said the new date for auction would be announced soon. Besides, he added, corrective measures would also be contemplated to ensure that today’s situation was not repeated. He did not agree with the contention of the licensees in Ludhiana that they had suffered huge losses.


Return of the liquor syndicate
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Notwithstanding the claims of the excise officials that the auction of the liquor vends in Ludhiana was postponed on account of the poor attendance of the licensees, there is widespread belief that there were more reasons than those put forth by the department. The overnight deliberations between two rival groups reportedly failed to break the deadlock and ultimately it was decided that the auction should be postponed, as there was every possibility of confrontation at the time of auction.

The deadlock goes beyond the rivalry among the two liquor groups. Mr Mann Singh Garcha, the brother of the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Jagdish Garcha, had managed to hold full control over the liquor vends in 1999-2000, giving him monopoly. However, his monopoly was broken in 2000-2001, with the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Pratap Singh, the son-in-law of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, playing an important role.

Mr Garcha enjoys the patronage of Mr Sukhbir Badal, whose differences with his brother-in-law are too well known. This time the group led by Mr Garcha hit back with vengeance. The group reportedly held down its foot during the overnight negotiations as it demanded major share of the 11 groups. This was reportedly resisted by the minister. The minister is believed to have been interested in accommodating Dhaba and Chadha groups.

This allegation was also levelled by the Congress MLA from Samrala Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, also a liquor contractor of the area. He told reporters at circuit house that the minister wanted lion’s share for these two groups and also at relatively less rates. This charge has been refuted by the minister.

Notwithstanding their opposite political affiliations, Mr Dhillon and Mr Garcha are related to each other. The two are reported to have reached an understanding to form a syndicate to break the minister’s hold over the liquor business in Ludhiana.

During the overnight negotiations, the Excise Department, (read the minister) was reportedly prepared to offer four of the 11 groups to Mr Garcha. However, this was not acceptable to the latter and he declined to yield any ground. The deadlock continued till the morning when the auction was about to start.

This obviously led to the tension since the group had already made up its mind to offer bids. Apprehending some untoward incident, the department officials decided at the last moment to postpone the auction. The auction was likely to be conducted at Patiala with other places left out before March 31.

The licensees had been maintaining that they had to suffer huge losses on account of rivalry between the minister and Mr Garcha. The latter was also accused of having opened unauthorised vends at different places, which led to sharp fall in the prices of liquor and hence the loss of revenue to the state. The police remained passive obviously under the influence of Mr Garcha.

The minister had last time promised to provide 1000 special excise police officials headed by an officer of the rank of SP to prevent illegal sale and the smuggling of liquor. But nothing of this sort happened and the illegal sale and smuggling continued unabated, leading to losses to the licensees, which was reflected today in the lack of interest shown by them at the auction.


Forum quashes PSEB’s demand
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
The District Consumer Disputes and Redressal Forum has quashed a demand of the Punjab State Electricity Board of Rs 2,05,805 from Mrs Daljit Kaur (56), a resident of Aggar Nagar Enclave as the allegation of theft of energy on the consumer could not be proved. The forum further directed the board to refund the amount deposited by the complainant along with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of deposit till the date of the refund.

According to the complaint, in August, 1999, the electric meter of the complainant was burnt and the same was changed. The complainant stated before the forum that the old meter was kept in her premises for about one month and taken away by the board officials in the last week of September, 1999. After a few days, she got a notice from the board in which Rs 2,05,805 was demanded and it was mentioned that in case of she did not deposit the amount, the connection will be disconnected, the complainant added.

The complainant stated that she had requested the opposite party to wait for two days so that she could arrange the money but the board disconnected the connection. However the board had restored the connection after the payment of 40 per cent of the demand (RS 82,000).

The board pleaded that the complaint was not maintainable since there was no deficiency in services as the meter was changed immediately after the deposit of Rs 775 for the change of meter on August, 25, 1999. The board futher stated that the removed meter was sent to the laboratory where it was found that a seal was missing and two meters were tempered with. The board alleged that it was found that the meter was recording 25 per cent of the energy consumed therefore, the account of the consumer was overhauled from the date of installation of the meter by enhancing 75 per cent of the consumption and the demand was raised.

The forum observed that this was a case of change of meter and not of suspected theft. Moreover the meter was not sealed and packed properly. The forum further stated that the complainant was neither informed about the checking of the meter nor her presence was recoded in the laboratory which was mandatory. The forum held that since the board officials had not complied with rules of the department, the disputed demand was liabled to quashed and accordingly the forum directed the board to refund the amount deposited against the disputed demand by the complainant with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum. 


Second phase of registration drive to begin soon
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Claiming that the controversial drive to register all the tenants and servants in the city has started paying dividends, the police has decided to launch the second phase of the drive from next week.

While in the first phase the landlords had filled up the forms giving details about their tenants and servants, the second phase would involve special checking of the information provided from certain pockets of the city identified as sensitive by the police. Besides these pockets, the police would also conduct random checking of other places in the city to cross-check the information. The door-to-door survey in the special pockets would aim to put further pressure on bad elements.

Disclosing this at the launch of the second phase to Ludhiana Tribune here today, SSP Kuldip Singh informed that it would further scare away bad elements or vagabonds moving around without any specific purpose in the city.

He said scrutiny of the papers and intelligence reports had revealed that while in the posh areas of the city not many suspicious tenants and servants were found, in several congested colonies, especially in the old city and outer area, a large number of tenants were living in small houses.

Comprising mostly migrant labourers, this component of city population keeps on moving in and out of the city, giving rise to suspicion about their activity. These tenants are also frequented by guests, who according to intelligence reports, have no fixed purpose in the city. The second phase would seek to keep an eye on such people.

Claiming that the massive exercise of filling up the forms had proved to be a success, the SSP said many bad elements had already fled the city, “Intelligence reports reaching us indicate that several anti-social elements have run away from the city fearing the registration drive”, he said.

Substantiating his claims, the SSP also added that the incidents of robbery and thefts in the city had also touched an all-time low since the drive was started.

The second phase would also mean that while earlier the onus of providing information was only on the landlords, now it would be all on the efficiency of the police for its proper utilisation so that the exercise should not go waste.

The finances seem to have already become a matter of concern as the police has invited advertisers to sponsor the expenses on the farms and some other things. The name of the sponsors will be printed on the forms.

The drive was started early this month on the directions of the District Magistrate, Mr S.K. Sandhu.

While generally it was welcomed, due to certain incidents of harassment and charging of money from the landlords by the police, the drive was criticised.


Enthusiastic start to Navratras
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
Navratras mark the return of festive season throughout the country. Durga puja is celebrated with great enthusiasm in every corner of the country. The nine incarnations of Maa Durga are worshipped with divinity and devotion by the devotees of Maa Bhagwati. The nine incarnations of Maa Durga include Shailputri, Brahmcharini, Chandraghanta, Kusumanda, Sikandmata, Katyayni, Kaalratri, Maha Gauri and Siddhidatri.

People worship Durga, the divine mother to seek her blessings and guidance to follow the right path in life. The worship of goddess symbolizes the purpose to see removal of darkness from the minds and to imbibe the spirit of light in the way of life.

During Navratras Durga temples are specially decorated and celebrations are held. The enchanting of bhajans, the fasts and worshipping Maa Durga can be seen anywhere in the mega city. Devotees keep havans at their places. The days are supposed to be sacred for any good venture to start.

Devotees keep fast for all the nine days. They eat food which is specially prepared for the occasion and include fruits, milk, chappatis of ‘singhare ka atta’ and ‘oghle ka atta’, papads made of sago and many other things prepared for fasts. Some other keep fast and eat only fruits while there are some who just eat a pair of cloves during these days.


It’s lucrative, and deadly too
D. B. Chopra

Ludhiana, March 26
The tirade launched by Takhat Shri Keshgarh Sahib against intoxicants of all kinds notwithstanding, a whole lot of so-called Nihangs are engaged in the lucrative business of bhang in the city in particular and the rest of the state in general.

Even though Baba Santa Singh, the chief of Nihangs, has refused to accept the Takhat’s proposed ban on the use of bhang on the ground that it is customary for Nihangs from day one to consume bhang , probably he too cannot by any means justify the bhang business currently being carried out by several Nihangs throughout Punjab and elsewhere.

A Nihang , who sells bhang lassi and other products, confides that the business is lucrative. When it is time to harvest the wheat in Punjab, it is also the time for these Nihang businessmen to harvest as much of the wild bhang standing in wheat fields and elsewhere as possible. None of them wants to be left high and dry midway through the rest of the year. The bhang harvest is stored in several big gunny bags. The whole exercise involves only a bit of labour. The only expenses which they have to incur are in the form of transportation costs, which are not more than Rs 200 to 250 , depending upon the number of gunny bags which are to be transported.

The Nihang gets up early in the morning. He grinds a whole lot of bhang and a handful of melon and poppy seeds (khaskhas) in a stone mortar with the help of a heavy wooden pestle to prepare a sweet sherbet, commonly called as ragra, possibly because its preparation involves a lot of grinding. While the more greedy among them use saccharins to sweeten the mixture, there are few others who use sugar for the purpose.

Other things which are normally recommended for bhang sherbets such as almonds and black pepper are not used because of their exorbitant prices. Other popular bhang preparations being sold by these Nihangs are laddus, wafers, panjiri, mutters and tikkies. A bhang tikkie is known and called as “ Air Ticket to Dubai” in the common parlance of the sellers. Their gullible customers realise rather late that is only a one-way ticket to hell.

In the Focal Point area of the city alone, there are nearly a dozen odd Nihangs who run a brisk business all through the year because of the larger concentration of the migrant population in the area, but the sale of bhang sherbet in summer is at the peak, with lots of people preferring a glass of thandai to beat the oppressive heat.

One of the Nihangs in the Focal point area is a migrant from Uttar Pradesh. After working as an apprentice to a Nihang for some time, he realised that it was a very lucrative business. He soon became a Nihang to be able to run the bhang business on his own. Now he dons the attire of a Nihang and runs a lucrative business in Jeewan Nagar. There are others on the Chandigarh Road , the Metro Road and Sherpur. All of them are virtually minting money, selling a glass of the heady drink for Rs 5 which hardly costs 50 paise to them. Labourers working in factories, rickshaw and auto-rickshaw drivers and many others can be seen guzzling the toxic sherbet at any of these bhang outlets at any time of the day.

There is a widespread notion among the public that it is perfectly legal for a Nihang to sell bhang products. Not only the public, the police also seem to hold the same erroneous view. How else could one explain the working of a outlets of bhang shop next to a police barrier on the Chandigarh Road? The Focal Point police had raided some outlets of bhang sellers early morning on Holi earlier this month and toppled their sherbet drums. It was not done as part of any campaign against the menace of bhang. The reason was said to be refusal of these Nihangs to oblige the cops with a couple of hundred rupee notes early in the morning, for which the cops could not wait till the evening.

Within the old city limits too, there are a number of bhang sellers who have been doing good business at various places for years now.

Bhang or cannabis is a very dangerous intoxicant. Its effect on different people cannot be accurately predicted. Any one who is not used to it can go crazy after a single dose. It not only creates a false sense of time and space, but also affects one physically because of its astringent effect upon blood capillaries. Hallucinations are common. The faculty to think and express oneself clearly is greatly impaired. Touch with reality is totally lost. It is considered fit only for mendicants and the like. For a normal person who has to live in society, it is poison.

Only the other day, a few bhang-intoxicated students of the Punjab Agricultural University created a scene on the campus. 


Unannounced power cuts by PSEB
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The citizens should prepare themselves as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has announced that unannounced power cuts have been started to cope with the intensifying power crisis in the state.

Thousands of industrial units in the city have been badly hit by the unannounced power cuts, prevalent from the past few days.

The demand for generator sets have gone up in the market. The students have been forced to burn midnight oil and sweat during the exam days. The housewives can be watched standing in queue to fetch a bucket of water.

Officials of the PSEB are not able to attend to the complaints of the public as ‘the intercom in the board offices is becoming non-operational frequently.’

Some industrialists have sent their workers on forced leave as they are finding it difficult to run their machines on generator sets. The board officials blame load-shedding and fall in power generation at the hydel power plants for this unpleasant situation.

Criticising the frequent unannounced power cuts, Mr Harish Khanna, president, Ludhiana Small Scale Manufacturers Association, said, “The industry is facing colossal production losses as a direct consequence of these power cuts. Though the summer season has not really set in, the public has been forced to live with the power cuts.”

The industrial representatives blame the free power supply to the agriculture sector and large-scale power theft in the state for this situation. Mr Davinder Singh, an owner of a small unit, said, “The government has forced power reforms in the past four years and is blaming less rains for lower supply of electricity. The fact is that it has failed to start atomic power plant that has been talked about on every political stage.”

But the board officials maintained that there was virtually no power generation at the Ranjit Sagar dam due to water shortage. The thermal power plants at Ropar and Bathinda were not generating enough power. The board has announced restrictions for the industry during peak hours and the situation may worsen in the coming days.

The agriculture experts say the board should announce power cuts in May to discourage farmers from sowing paddy before the recommended time period — between June 10 and 20.

The board officials say the situation is not likely to improve in the coming days as the demand for power will increase with the rise in temperature. 


Striking hosiery workers allege repression
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
Workers of a local hosiery factory who are on strike for the last three days in protest against the exploitation by the contractors and management, violation of labour laws and police repression, staged a dharna today at the Mini-Secretariat here, demanding stern action against the management and police and immediate release of the arrested labour activists.

Addressing the protest rally, the trade union activists alleged that workers in the factory, were being exploited, both by the management and the contractors, and those protesting against the injustice, were being humiliated and harassed. The labour laws were being flouted with impunity and the workers were being denied their due rights.

In a memorandum submitted to the district administration by the striking workers, it was further alleged that the police used force on the workers sitting on a dharna outside the factory on Saturday after an indefinite strike was declared to protest against misbehaviour with one of the workers. They further charged the police with taking more than 30 workers in custody today, under pressure from the management.

Mr Kanwaljit Khanna, state secretary of the Inquilabi Kendra, speaking on the occasion, observed that factory workers were being treated like bonded labourers in a large number of industrial units, with the government officials looking the other way, or at times, even conniving with the managements.

The workers demanded action against erring management and police officials, acceptance of genuine demands of the workers regarding labour rates, scrupulous implementation of the labour laws and immediate release of arrested workers.


Workshop on women empowerment 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
A day-long workshop on development of woman and child was organised at Jodhewal Basti here today.

Ms Neena Gupta, Child Development Project Officer, made the residents aware of the projects being undertaken by the International Child Development Scheme, including Kanya Jagarati Yojna, Adolescent Girls’ Scheme, Widows Pension, Old-Age Pension.

Mr Ranvir Singh, Nutrition Officer, Department of Women and Child Welfare, gave lecture on the causes of malnutrition in pre-school children. An exhibition highlighting the nutritive value of various food items was organised by the Food and Nutrition Board, Government of India.

Nearly 85 anganwari workers, helpers and other beneficiary groups of the scheme participated in the workshop. Mr Harish Tandon, councillor of the area, spoke about the importance of women empowerment.


Pension not transferred
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
A former elderly resident of Jagraon, near here, has been facing problem in transfer of her pension and repeated pleas to the authorities concerned have not borne fruit.

Ms Partap Kaur, now living in Mohali, says she applied for the transfer of her pension (PPO 16643/PB) from Punjab National Bank, Jagraon (Ludhiana), to Punjab National Bank, Phase I, Mohali (Ropar) in October, 2000.

However, the transfer papers have not yet reached the Mohali branch. Also, she has neither been receiving pension since then nor got any intimation regarding the status of her pension papers.


Safai workers hold protest
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
Safai workers took out a protest march in the city today to express their resentment against “anti-poor” policies of the government and the contract labour system, through which the safai workers were being exploited all over.

The district president of the All-India Safai Mazdoor Congress, Mr Kala Hans, who led the march, later said while addressing the rally that the government was pursuing a policy of removal of poor people rather than removing poverty.

Mr Dina Nath Sidhu, national secretary of the body, termed the prevalent contract system of safai workers as sheer exploitation and reiterated the determination of his party to fight till the discriminatory practice was put to an end. He lambasted the BJP-led coalition government in the Centre and the SAD-BJP combine in Punjab.


Dalits to protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
The simmering controversy between the Dalit community of certain villages in Jagraon tehsil and the head of a religious sect based in the town seems to aggravate further as an organisation of the Dalits has decided to take the matter to the streets.

The Punjab Pendu Mazdoor Union has in a press release announced its move to stage a dharna on March 30 in front of the SDM’s office demanding immediate action against the sect chief. They are angry at him as he has reportedly stopped the Dalit community from paying obeisance at the village gurdwara. Terming his moves as anti-Sikh, the union also alleged that on the behest of the ‘Baba’, the office-bearers of the gurdwara also removed the picture of a religious figure from the gurdwara worshipped by the Dalits. The ‘Baba’ has reportedly denied the allegations.


Land grab case: tehsildar, patwari booked
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, March 26
Six persons, including the then Tehsildar Jagdip Singh Momi, and the halqa patwari, Jagpal Singh, have been booked on the charges of fraud and cheating, in connection with fraudulent entries in revenue record and subsequent sale of a 975-square yard piece of land, owned by the Central Government in the Shivaji Nagar locality here.

On the directions of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, the district police has registered the case against the managing committee of Shastri Memorial Middle School, the circle revenue officer (Tehsildar), Jagdip Singh Momi, the patwari, Jagpal Singh, the Everest Educational Society, Pankaj Sharma and Dhiraj Sharma under Sections 420/ 465/ 467/ 468/ 471 and 120-B, IPC. Two members of the school managing committee namely Amarjit and Ramesh Dutt have been arrested and were produced before the judicial magistrate.

Giving details of the case, Mr S.S. Sandhu, SP (Operations), to whom the investigation has been entrusted, told Ludhiana Tribune that the land was under the possession of the school for quite sometime. In 1992-93, the land was mutated in favour of the school management in the revenue record on the basis of a court order. The scrutiny of the degree sheet, issued by the court, however, revealed that it pertained solely to the possession of the said land by the school, whereas the school management had got the land transferred in its name, allegedly in connivance with revenue officials, including the tehsildar and patwari.

The land, valued at around Rs 60 lakh, was subsequently sold to Pankaj Sharma and Dhiraj Sharma of the Everest Educational Society and mutation (nos. 40762, 40764, 40764) to this effect was also entered in the revenue record.

The matter was brought to the notice of the district administration by Mr Pran Bhatia, councillor on behalf of residents of the area, and an inquiry by the District Development and Panchayat Officer was ordered. On the basis of the inquiry report, the District Grievances Committee, at its meeting held on September 11, 2000, directed the police to register criminal cases against all accused persons.

The Deputy Commissioner, in the intervening period, had ordered a review of the mutations, favouring the managing committee of Shastri Memorial Middle School and the subsequent purchasers of the land, Everest Educational Society and both the mutations were cancelled and the ownership of the land was restored in the name of the Central Government.

Mr Sandhu told that investigation in the case was in progress and more arrests were expected soon.


70-year-old attempts to rape minor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 26
Tension gripped Jalal di Wal village near Raikot town, last evening when a 70-year-old man attempted to rape a minor girl. He was caught red-handed by the girl’s parents and other villagers and was given a sound beating.

Later, he was arrested by the police and has been booked under Sections 376 and 511 of the IPC. The medical examination of the 8-year-old girl was being conducted and the report was awaited. The police said the report will confirm whether the rape took place or not.

According to the FIR and villagers, the shocking incident took place at about 3 p.m. yesterday. The accused lives just besides the victim’s house and the two families used to frequent each other regularly.

On that fateful day, the old man was alone and he took the victim to his house. The victim too was alone as her parents had gone to work in a factory nearby.

The girl’s parents, meanwhile, arrived in time and through a window saw the old man and the victim. Horrified, they rushed inside and rescued the girl. The girl was taken to a hospital in Raikot.


One arrested, liquor seized
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 26
The Kotwali police arrested Gurwinder Singh, a resident of Haripur, for possessing 12 bottles of illicit liquor yesterday and booked him under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act.

Theft case

The Haibowal police on Sunday registered a case of theft under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Malik Singh, a resident of Mandip Nagar, who stated that on the night of March 24 an unknown person stole gold ornaments, two watches and Rs 18,000 from his house.

Dowry case

A case under Sections 406 and 498-A of the IPC was registered at the Sadar police station on Sunday on the statement of Ms Balbir Kaur, a resident of Karnail Singh Nagar, Pakhowal Road, against her husband, Nachhattar Singh, a resident of Kheri Jhameri village, for demanding more dowry. She approached the SSP on March 22.

Case registered

The Model Town police has registered a case under Sections 452, 506, 380, 342, 323, 427 and 148 of the IPC against Mr Avtar Singh, a resident of Ghawaddi, on the complaint of Mr Dildhiraj Singh, a resident of Guru Gian Vihar, Jawaddi Khurd, and six to seven others.

The complainant alleged that the accused came to his house in a Gypsy (HR 51-6142) and attacked his family members with sticks and iron rods and injured him and his wife. Later, they locked both of them in the bedroom before decamping with valuable household goods. The case has been handed over to Mr Amrik Singh, ASI, posted at Dugri.

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