Monday, August 20, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Police Dept asks cops to declare assets
Puzzled staff resent move
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
In an apparent move to collect firsthand information about the reported wealth amassed, disproportionate to known sources of income, the district police authorities have directed the police officers and other personnel from the rank of the inspector till the constable to submit details about their assets including property and bank accounts in the office of the Senior Superintendent of police here.

The interesting move, said to the first one of its kind, comes in the wake of a number of cases and charges of corruption levelled against police officials and personnel in the recent past. Already more than 15 policemen, all belonging to the non-gazetted ranks have either been suspended or sent to police lines on various charges, including corruption, in the past two months only. The number includes three SHOs.

According to sources, the SSP, Ludhiana, has sent circular to all police stations and other wings of the city police, to submit details about their assets. While senior officials could not be contacted today, a number of lower-level police officials confirmed the orders.

Sources say that the circular perplexed the policemen as first they thought it to be a normal matter related to the annual disclosure of property for the Income Tax Department. However, the policemen were surprised as these Income Tax requirement notices used to come in March or at the most in April-May but never had such notices come in August.

A number of policemen quizzed in this regard expressed mixed feelings about the orders. While some, claiming to be clean, welcomed it saying that the alleged black sheep would be taught a lesson, several others said condemned the direction to selective ranks only. The lower rank police personnel lamented that the senior officials should also disclose their assets and if some such drive was to be taken out it had to come from the top.

Inquiries confirmed that the no official from the rank of the DSP and above had been given such directions. One such senior officer, confirming the non-issuing of directions to these ranks, also expressed surprise at the directions to the lower ranks. He said it was not in his knowledge.

It may be mentioned here that after hogging headlines in January and April this year regarding a spate in crime incidents in the city, Ludhiana was in the news last month again because of alleged corruption among the police personnel. A number of corruption cases against the policemen had also been highlighted in the media. These cases included a case of extortion by a head constable, who first sold stolen cars to auto and scrap dealers and later through some middle-men used to blackmail the dealers to give him money lest he would register a case against them.

Two SHOs were facing inquiry for allegedly taking money from a gas agency owner for not taking action against him after the owner was found selling underweight LPG cylinders. At least five policemen, including an ASI, were suspended after they allegedly took money from a rich undertrial, admitted in a private hospital, for providing him several facilities. There were several other cases of corruption also.

The Tribune had also highlighted another evidence of corruption in the state police department. Most of the police officials of the rank of ASI and above used mobile phones liberally whereas their salaries did not indicate they could afford such luxury. It had been reliably learnt that the mobile were used on money funded by ‘friends’ of the cops or persons involved in cases.


Farmers cashing in on Badal’s compulsions
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
Apparently knowing the political compulsions of the ruling SAD-BJP government to keep farmers in good humour due to the forthcoming assembly elections, smart farmers in this district planted the 60-day variety of paddy and have now brought the produce to the grain market, calling the government to purchase their produce.

Even though the government is in consultation with the Centre to finalise the minimum support price of paddy and the government machinery is preparing for paddy produce in September only, the arrival of the paddy much before scheduled time is set to become an embarrassment for the government.

Although the paddy crop had created a number of problems for the Punjab farmers last year due to the produce being branded as of substandard quality by the FCI, the farmers were not discouraged to cultivate it this year also. Thanks to the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Despite the fact that the scientists at Punjab Agricultural University had advised the farmers to shift some area under paddy cultivation to some other crops, the farmers had not paid any heed to the suggestion. They were quite confident that while the elections were nearing, their produce would be procured at any cost.

PAU scientists had also recommended the farmers to cultivate only late varieties of paddy in view of the depleting underground water table. They had reasoned that the late-sown variety required lesser water and was less susceptible to attack by certain pests and diseases.

Fearing that the government would go in for pre-scheduled poll in the state, the farmers had interestingly sown early-maturing varieties of paddy. A number of farmers in Pamal and Jodhan village, Ludhiana Tribune spoke to said that they were quite apprehensive that a pre poll would be announced before the end of this year, so they had opted for early varieties.

Mr Harbhajan Singh, a farmer from Jodhan village, said that he had sown the Govinda variety of paddy that was an advanced one and was ready to hit the market. He said that he was starting harvesting the crop and the work would be finished in three-four days. He said,”Not to take any risk I had sown this variety. So if the pre elections were declared, then it was not going to be a problem for me. I was prepared for it.”

The farmers said that the produce had already hit the mandis in Jagraon and Mullanpur Dakha. 


5 more marriage palaces face uncertainty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
Five marriage palaces along the Ferozepore Road, which had been served demolition notices by the district administration following a Punjab and Haryana High Court decision, face uncertainty as the time period of the stay granted to them by the Supreme Court of India expires tomorrow. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing in the apex court tomorrow.

While the officials in the district administration are tight-lipped over the issue, the marriage palace owners have put all their hopes on tomorrow's hearing in the apex court. While the district administration had demolished three marriage palaces — Megha Resorts, Springfields and the White Rocks — on June 5, it had served demolition notices on five others. While a few of them had got relief from the Supreme Court, La Cassabaron had got time till August 20 to appeal against the demolitions in the apex court. They have already appealed in the apex court. They have not been able to organise any function during this period and the marriage palaces are as good as closed.

Following the March 19 verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which directed the district administration to demolish all illegal and unauthorised structures within the 1000 yard radius of the Field Ammunition Depot, Badhowal, demolition notices were served on three marriage palaces on May 4. They were asked to demolish their palaces within one month failing which the district administration would carry out the demolitions itself. All three palaces were demolished on June 5 exactly after the expiry of one-month notice period. However, their appeal against the high court decision was pending in the Supreme Court and was listed to be heard on July 9. After the administration served demolition notices on remaining five marriage palaces, they got relief from the apex court.

Now all cases have been clubbed together. These will come up for hearing tomorrow. The district administration has reportedly submitted all details and documents to the apex court. The petitioners are contending that the demolitions were illegal since the notification issued by the Defence Ministry prohibiting construction of structures within the 1000 yard radius had expired and it had not been re-issued as it was mandatory. The Defence Ministry had issued the notice in 1983 and later on there was no mention of it, while structures came up in the following years. 


Traders’ ultimatum on octroi abolition
Tribune News Service

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 19
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, the state level-body of traders today gave an ultimatum to the state government to abolish octroi by September 2 failing which it would launch protest rallies at municipal committee and corporation offices on September 3. Later, if required it would resort to jail bharo agitation. The traders are ready to compensate the local bodies through alternative methods but the harassment of traders and corruption in the name of octroi were intolerable to the trading community.

In the state-level traders convention held here today, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, president, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, said, “The traders’ protest against the state government would continue till it abolished octroi as promised in the election manifestoes. The governments of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, UP, Uttranchal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi have already abolished octroi.”

He reminded Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to take back the cases registered against the traders in Ludhiana, Patiala, Mandi Gobindgarh, Pathankot and other cities during different agitation programmes. The CM had promised to take back these cases, but nothing has been done in this regard, he said.

Mr Jain regretted that increased checking under the ST Act, Section 14 (B), had led to large-scale corruption. The government had failed to abolish “Inspector Raj” in the state resulting in harassment of industrialists and traders. He said, ‘‘The CM had promised to check the raids on traders after 15 per cent increase in the sales tax collection. However, despite more than 39 per cent increase in sales tax, from Rs 1982.30 crore in 1999-2000 to Rs 2757.52 crore, the state government is resorting to arm-twisting tactics.’’

Traders’ representatives demanded cut in sales tax on yarn and hosiery goods from 4 to 2 per cent, on electronic goods from 12 to 6 per cent, on sports goods from 3 to 2 per cent and to abolish sales tax on gur, rakhi and plastic goods. The C- form and Central Sales Tax should be also abolished. They said, ‘‘The government has failed to implement the recommendations of Asim Dass Gupta committee regarding the uniform sales tax resulting in heavy losses to the Punjab traders.’’

Mr Jain urged the government to create awareness among them about the VAT system, to be implemented in April 2002. The government should cut down the electricity charges for industrial and commercial consumers on the pattern of domestic consumers, besides revoking minimum charges. The government should consider privatisation of electricity generation and distribution as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had failed to fulfill its duty. He asked the state government to raise the issue of 30 paise duty on petrol as there was a cess of Rs 1 per litre, already imposed for the development of national highway. There was no justification in 30 paise duty on petrol, he said.

Among others Mr Piar Lal Seth, senior vice-president, Pratap Chand Bhutani, Tarsem Jain, Sunil Mehra, Rajinder Singh Soch (general secretaries), Baba Ajit Singh, Bal Mukand Aggarwal, Om Parkash Gupta, Parkash Chand Garg, Ravi Passi, Sunil Prabhakar and Mahinder Aggarwal also addressed the convention.


Decomposed body found
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
The highly decomposed body of an unidentified woman, suspected to be a migrant labourer, was found under mysterious circumstances on a vacant plot near Cheema Colony on the Pakhowal road here today noon.

The body, wrapped in a number of blankets, was spotted by Suresh Pal, a migrant labourer, who lives in a house near the plot. The labourer, in a statement to the police, said a pungent smell was emanating from the plot since morning. Initially they thought some animal had died but were horrified to find the body of a middle-aged woman.

Police sources said the woman appeared to be a domestic servant and could have been murdered after rape. The condition of the body had deteriorated to such an extent that the face could not be identified. The body has been sent for post-mortem examination. 


2 kids hurt following electric shock
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
Two children were seriously injured when they suffered severe electric shocks while playing under high tension electric wires. The incident occurred in street no. 4 of the Santokh Nagar area across the Budha Nullah.

According to Mr Ram Chander Solanki, office secretary of the district Congress Committee, Ludhiana, the incident occurred around 4 p.m. He said he was sleeping in his house when he heard the sound of a blast.

When he came out, he found two children lying injured and unconscious on the ground. One of the children had reportedly thrown a rope on the high tension electric wires. As the two wires joined together, it caused short-circuit with a deafening sound. The two children, who could not be identified, fell down instantly. They have been admitted to hospital, where they are stated to be in critical condition.


It’s a global village for them
M.S. Cheema

Jagir Singh Raju, a senior citizen, has observed fast changes. As a keen observer in the waiting room, he is a good judge of movement of trains. He has also gone to international airports many times to bid farewell to his kith and kin as well as to receive them. His sons, daughters and grandchildren are scattered all over the globe.

Raju hails from Kandhala Jattan, Hoshiarpur. His father, Subedar Natha Singh of Sikh Pioneers, took part in the First World War, visited several West Asian countries and was posted in North Africa. In the closing years of the war, he was sent to Europe. He returned, was allotted land and given a jagir. His grandfather, Hira Singh, took part in the morcha of Guru Ka Bagh and fell to a British bullet.

Jagir Singh Raju was born in 1931 at Chak No 251 (E.B.), Montgomery. After Partition, the family returned to the ancestral village. He graduated and took a law degree. He joined the Punjab Government and served at different places.

His eldest son, Sukhjit Singh Raju, settled in Mumbai. He planned to go to the USA or to Canada. He then decided to settle in Oakland, New Zealand. His second son, Parmjit Singh Raju, married Ravinder Kaur, a Mombasa-born Kenyan. She became a British national after migration to the UK. This couple has two UK-born sons.

Parmjit Raju is an officer in the Department of Central Excise and Customs. Jagir Singh’s elder daughter, Manjit Kaur, married Daljinder Singh of Jagraon, who settled in the UK. The second daughter, Samarjit Kaur, wife of the late Amarjit Singh, and her three sons chose to settle in Redding, California, USA. The family has made the concept of global village a reality.


A friendship worth emulation
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, August 19
In these times of cut-throat competition when a person does not think twice before ditching others for self-interest, the four-year-long friendship of Rani, a ‘langoor’, and Gulzari Lal, an ascetic, is a perfect example for others to follow. These inhabitants of the Sabzi Mandi area stand by each other even in the adverse circumstances.

The peaceful animal has provided meaning to the life of Gulzari Lal, who earlier used to earn his living by playing ‘bahurupia’. He would entertain people by changing his appearances at various places in Delhi. About four years ago, he found Rani in bad health and took it to a veterinary doctor. On being told that the animal needed extra care for some time, Gulzari Lal decided to keep it with him for a few days. After Rani got well, he many a times thought of leaving it in a forest, but could not reconcile himself to the idea of parting ways with it.

Meanwhile, wandering around made him disenchanted with the material world and he decided to become an ascetic. Now, accompanied by Rani, he goes to five houses daily to get two square meals. They are welcomed by all, especially children.


Urbanites enthusiastically adopt ‘apni mandis’: study
Tribune News Service

People in urban areas, by and large, have adopted the ‘apni mandis’ for buying vegetables and fruits etc. And they are satisfied with this arrangement.

It has been revealed in a study conducted by Ms Hardeep Kaur, a research scholar of the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana under the guidance of Dr Savita Batish.

Ms Hardeep Kaur has found that the availability of fresh vegetables at a cheaper rates than that of retail vegetable vendors has made the ‘apni mandis’ attractive for customers .

Moreover, as the concept of ‘apni mandis’ has spread in almost all parts of the cities like Chandigarh, Ludhiana and elsewhere, people do not have to go to traditional vegetable markets which virtually stink in absence of proper upkeep by the authorities concerned.

However, customers do face problems due to over crowding and about parking of vehicles etc, while visiting ‘apni mandis’. Ms Hardeep Kaur says that most of the customers are unaware of the fact that the display of the list of rates of various vegetables in ‘apni mandi’ is mandatory. The concept of ‘apni mandis’ was introduced in Punjab on selective basis in 1987 by Dr M.S. Gill, the then Financial Commissioner (Development) Punjab.


Seminar on education
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
A seminar on education was held on the topic ''who is responsible for the deterioration in education system — teachers or government and what are its remedies? What are the new challenges for education?''

This seminar was organised by the Government Teachers Union, Punjab, in Guru Nanak Khalsa Girls High School, Gujjarkhan, Model Town, Ludhiana. It was attended by more than 500 educationists, writers and intellectuals. The seminar was presided over by Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, president of the union and the general secretary, Mr Sucha Singh Khatra.

Due to a shortage of staff, heavy syllabus devoid of employment avenues, lack of technical education and extra work taken from the teachers had created a chaos in the education system. The speakers also criticised expensive higher education which is beyond the reach of common man.

Mr Harkanwal, a leader of the union, said that the present education system was serving the ruling class.

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