Friday, August 31, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



MC panel opposes abolition of octroi
Says move will hit development works
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 30
The Finance and Contracts Committee (F&CC) of the Municipal Corporation adopted a special resolution at its meeting held here last evening, expressing its strong opposition to the government move for abolition of octroi. Interestingly, the resolution, MC sources informed, was moved by Senior Deputy Mayor Jagdish Prasad Loomba of the BJP, while the city Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, presided over the meeting.

The resolution, which has been forwarded to the state government through the Principal Secretary, Local Government, along with the proceedings of the F&CC meeting, says octroi generated major part of the revenue of the civic body and was practically the backbone of its financial health. The abolition of octroi, it further observed, was bound to adversely affect the development works in the city, and in the prevailing situation, abolition of octroi was not advisable in the larger interests of the city’s population.

While the move to express dissent against the ongoing exercise for abolition of octroi appears to be a desperate attempt by the elected representatives to stall the decision, which insiders term as ‘fatal and disastrous’ for the local bodies, what has surprised everybody is that it was initiated by a senior BJP functionary (Mr Loomba), who also has the tacit support of his party colleague and Deputy Mayor Santosh Aneja, who was present at the meeting. Among others, who attended the meeting were Mr Jai Parkash and Mr Hakam Singh Giaspura, Councillors and members of the F&CC.

The fact that the government is under immense pressure from the BJP leadership to expedite the abolition of octroi in the wake of the coming assembly elections, is known to everybody. But the opposition to the populist measure from within the party, which was bound to spell disaster for development works in the town and cities all over Punjab, has brought out the fact that even the BJP is divided over the issue.

While senior BJP leaders desperately want the poll promise of octroi abolition fulfilled, even belatedly, to win back their shrunken urban base and to consolidate their vote bank among members of the trade and industry, a section within the party did realise at the same time that the decision to do away with octroi might do more harm than good. “It (abolition of octroi) may bring in some short-term gains in terms of popular support but once the people came face to face with the repercussions and the local bodies had no funds for development works, the same people, whom the ruling alliance was trying to appease, would rise in revolt against the decision,” remarked one of the BJP councillors, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

Several MC officials, whom Ludhiana Tribune talked to, were, without exception, against the abolition of octroi. They said the move was ill-advised and was bound to create financial disaster for the civic bodies. It was pointed out that as far as this city was concerned there was a yawning gap between MC income from all other sources except octroi and the compulsory expenditure on salaries, operations and maintenance. “The development works will be a far cry, the MC will not be in a position to pay salaries to its employees,” was the response of a senior civic official, who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons.

The F&CC granted approval to tenders received for various development works for issuance of work orders. These included Rs 3.29 crore for paving of streets and surfacing of roads, Rs 56.41 lakh for sewerage and water supply projects and Rs 33 lakh for streetlight. An amount of Rs 32.39 lakh was provided for purchase of seven Gypsy vehicles for the Octroi Department.

The meeting also endorsed the new and revised estimates worth Rs 2.58 crore for construction of roads and streets, Rs 75.64 lakh for sewerage and water supply, Rs 95.85 lakh for street lights, Rs 22.04 lakh for health branch and Rs 9.63 lakh for records branch.


1 dies, 3 hurt as building collapses
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 30
One person died while three others were badly injured when a two-storey building collapsed in the Janakpuri area this morning.

Three labourers, Gulchand, Manoj and Jatinder, were working in the building while its owner, Jasbeer Singh Beera, was standing there when suddenly the whole concrete structure fell over them.

All of them were immediately rushed to CMC Hospital, where Gulchand was declared dead. The condition of the other two labourers was serious, while Jasbeer Singh Beera was declared out of danger. However, the owner of the building got major fractures in both legs.

Mr Beera, while talking to this correspondent, disclosed that there were two separate shops and Mr Manjit Walia purchased one shop. Mr Walia wanted to remove the wall between the two shops as he wanted to make a big shop on the ground floor as well as the first floor.

The death toll could have been higher if there were more persons under the roof of the building. But fortunately, only four persons were there at that time. The police reached after half-an-hour of the incident. Despite several requests by the local residents and officials participating in the rescue work, PSEB officials failed to turn up.


Our son has been tortured’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
An 18-year-old city youth has allegedly been brutally tortured by the CIA staff of the city police, which had allegedly illegally detained him for four days, ‘presurrising’ him to confess the murder of an old woman, whose body was found under mysterious circumstances at Sidhwan Bet village in Jagraon two-and-a-half months ago.

The youth with multiple injuries, especially on the feet, legs and head, was admitted to the Civil Hospital here this evening. The youth was not in a position to talk as his face was swollen. His parents, weeping uncontrollably, alleged that the CIA staff police picked him up from their residence in Beantpura near Samrala Chowk in the morning of August 25.

According to Mr Mohan Lal and Ms Saroj Rani, father and mother, respectively, of the youth, the police had said they were taking him just to question him about the case and would send him back in an hour. However, the police released the youth in the evening of August 28 and that too only after the parents along with other relatives and some residents approached the police to release the boy, as he was innocent.

The parents said the boy told them that he was tortured repeatedly by the police. At least 10 police men used to beat him with sticks. The police repeatedly hit him at the bottom of his feet due to which he could not walk. Then heavy iron rods were placed on his legs which were stretched apart by the policemen. The parents alleged that the policemen pressurised him to confess that he had killed the old woman or had hired contract killers to do the job. He was even hung upside down for several hours.

The parents said the police was questioning him regarding the murder of an old woman, Surinder Kaur, a resident of Janakpuri , with whose family they had some dispute over property and some financial matter. The old woman had mysteriously disappeared in June and later her body was found at Sidhwan Bet village near Jagraon.

The woman had been stabbed in the stomach. Later, after the identification, the Jagraon police had picked up the parents of the youth and questioned them for two days, but nothing could come out of it. The parents claimed that the youth was questioned by the Jagraon police also, but they had given him a clean chit.

The CIA staff police, as well as the city SSP Harpreet Singh Sidhu, was not available for comments.


Ganpati shobha yatra today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 30
Ganpati Mahotsava celebrations will conclude tomorrow with a big shobha yatra starting from Cheema Chowk, Janakpuri, at 10 in the morning.

Six 10-foot and one 18-foot high Ganpati idols will be the main attraction of the shobha yatra. The yatra will pass through Sufian Chowk, Kidwai Nagar, Isa Nagar, CMC Chowk, Benjamin Road and division No. 3 areas before culminating at Ghanta Ghar Chowk where a ceremony will be held in the evening. Later, devotees will move in procession to the Sutlej to immerse the holy idols.


It was an ordeal: molestation victim
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
It could rightly be termed as ordeal of a sufferer. One day after the Punjab Agricultural University authorities finally took action against a teacher accused of molestation, the victim girl sits back and broods with anguish, the pain and sufferings she had to undergo not only in the molestation experience but also in the fight for justice.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune , the girl confided that in fact more than the molestation experience, it was the fight for justice and the sarcastic remarks she had to listen that were more tormenting. She termed the molestation as disgusting but the remarks and the attitude of some teachers, who also had daughters like her, horrifying.

Pouring out her anguish, she said that it was a difficult for her and her mother to face the crisis which others were forecasting that would eclipse her career in the university. Stating that the whole episode brought her more pain than she had felt at the demise of her father, she said she would never forget the role of teachers as well as her fellow students.

A bit relaxed after the suspension of the soil scientist, the victim talking, at her hostel today, said that she had finally emerged a winner but had formed the opinion that it was difficult to be a woman and ask for justice at the same time.

Pained at the behaviour of many teachers who allegedly did not support her and tried to press upon her to withdraw her complaint, she was quite sarcastic about the role of some “academicians”. “Even the female teachers did not understand my plight and were rude to me when I had submitted my complaint.” she said.

Many teachers (whom she has identified) allegedly tried their level best to throw cold water on her courageous bid to demand suspension of her teacher and discouraged her, using rude remarks. One of the teachers even went to her saying: “There has been no dearth of such cases. These have been reported off an on, slogans have been raised. Windowpanes have been broken. But nothing has really changed. Have you heard any teacher being suspended in the history of PAU after charged with molestation? Forget about it and get back to your studies.”

He had also allegedly tried to threaten her that if she insisted on her demands, she would be face difficulty in getting a degree from the university.

Another teacher who was incidently an office-bearer of PAUTA had come to her asking to forgive the teacher. In her words he had said: “Even I have got daughters. You are also like my daughter and I beg your pardon on your teacher’s behalf. He has got fatherly feelings for you. How did you think he molested you?”

“You have misunderstood him and you should withdraw your complaint” he had added. She also gave a pat reply in bold words to the teacher which she did not want to be published.

She was made to answer all sorts of questions by the various inquiry committees which she says “humiliated her”. “I think I was being molested everytime I was asked to reply to their questions. Their behaviour had made me believe that I would never get justice.”

A teacher whom the Vice Chancellor had purposely assigned to look into the matter sympathetically, being a woman, had asked the girl during inquiry: “Before you say something you should realise that whatever you say is going to affect the wife and daughter of the accused. You yourself are a woman and you should understand what would they feel about it.”

The victim, however, at that time kept quiet but did not change her statement. Talking to The Tribune she said: “I was not able to understand that she was asking me to say something that would not hurt the other women and she was not even bothering about the difficult time I was going through.”

She is happy that at least the students of PAU stood by her side and her demands were met by the authorities and her major adviser was changed. Her mother whom she had called for support “at the time of trial” has gone back to Gurdaspur, her home-town, after feeling that she was safe now.


VLCC centre raided
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 30
Income Tax sleuths today conducted raids on the premises of the Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves (VLCC) centre in the city. Senior officials of the department converged at the Mall Road centre early in the morning and searches were going on till the time of filing of this report.


Govt fired for failure to tackle unemployment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 30
Congress activists today lambasted the SAD-BJP government for its failure on all fronts, and in particular for unemployment among the educated youth, which was assuming alarming proportions and causing widespread unrest and resentment among the youth.

Addressing a meeting, organised by the Urban Development Cell of the Youth Congress here, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, Chairman of the Labour and Employment Cell of the PPCC, lamented that the government had not bothered to frame any effective employment policy. “It is a well accepted fact that economic factors were predominant behind more than a decade of militancy in Punjab and there is dire need to evolve such policies and programmes that the energy of youth is channelised in constructive activities and the educated youth are provided gainful employment.”

Mr Bawa alleged that BJP-led ruling NDA in the Centre had sullied the name of democracy by retaining those key functionaries of the constituent parties who were thoroughly exposed for their corrupt deeds by tehelka dotcom. The fact that former Union Defence Minister George Fernandes continues to be the convener of the NDA amply proved that the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was hand in glove with tainted politicians.

Mr Pawan Diwan, Chairman of the Urban Development Cell, charged the ruling alliance with compromising the peace and prosperity of the state for its own political motives. He said the Congress, if returned to power in Punjab, would lay special emphasis on dealing with the problem of increasing unemployment.

The meeting also took stock of the preparations for the function to observe martyrdom day of Beant Singh at Payal tomorrow and the political conference at Mela Chhapar on September 2. Mr Manjit Singh Malerkotla, member, PPCC Media Committee, Mr Akshay Bhanot, district president, Urban Development Cell, and Mr Jarnail Singh, district convener, while speaking assured that party activists would descend in large numbers at Payal and Chhapar and would ensure the success of party gatherings at both the places.

Meanwhile, Mr Parminder Mehta, president, District Youth Congress, has rued that as a result of lack of coordination between the Centre and the respective state governments in Punjab and Jammu Kashmir, which happened to be the constituents of the NDA, those involved in the fight against terrorism were being harassed at the hands of self-styled human rights bodies, while the violence against common people and other terrorist activities were continuing unabated.

Speaking at a meeting of the district executive of the party in Chhawni Mohalla here today, Mr Mehta called upon the government to immediately withdraw cases against police personnel, who had valiantly fought to safeguard the unity of the country. He said even after making a public announcement of granting general amnesty to police officers involved in the cases filed by human rights organisations, the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, had given in to the pressure mounted by Mr Badal on the issue. The same thing had happened to the government stand on Jammu and Kashmir, he added.


Urdu spreading fragrance in the entire world’
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, August 30
“The Urdu language is like a delightful fragrance which is everywhere throughout Asia, but doesn’t have a habitat of its own,” said Mr Bhupinder Singh Parihar, Professor of English at the Government College for Boys. He is the Editor of the Urdu journal, ‘Urdu Alive’, that saw the light of day in 1997. He has not only an MPhil degree in English but has also masters’ degree in Urdu. He said the knowledge of English literature contributed in literary criticism. English helped him to appreciate Urdu and Hindi literature in a better way.

No other Indian language has a journal of its own in English. Mr Parihar said the aim of bringing out this journal was to make the non-knowing, but interested in Urdu language young generation be aware of the beauty of the language. Moreover, the journal presents the contemporary literary scene in the language.

Another reason of publishing in Urdu was that the readership is much less in Urdu than English. In the words of Mr Satyapal Anand, a California-based poet and a writer of Urdu language, “the journal ‘Urdu Alive’ has captured the imagination of the subcontinent. Moreover, the works in English language reach much bigger audience as few people are familiar with Urdu script. Modern readers are made aware of literary works of the writers all over the world.”

Mr Parihar, the driving force behind the journal, says: “Translation is the most creative and significant function in Indian literature. Literature of all Indian languages is coming together through translation. Translation of Urdu poetry from India and abroad is being done into English and thus more and more people are becoming familiar with best of Urdu poetry and literature. This journal is recommended for study in Princeton University, USA. In the next issue, Mohammad Ikram Chugtai, Director, Academy of Languages, Lahore, is going to write a paper on Iqbal and Tagore. This journal cuts across the barriers of countries and like minded people come together. This journal goes to 20 countries. Though we do face financial difficulty in bringing out this journal but lovers of Urdu language do contribute.”

He further disclosed that they have received patronage and moral support from the National Book Trust of India & Sahitya Academy. Professor Parihar said: “After more than 50 years of independence, Urdu language has become the national minority language. My logic is that Urdu, which has its origin in Arabic and Persian, is so deeply assimilated in our psyche that we cannot disown it. Politically, we might have done so but as we are getting more secular, Urdu is no longer associated with Muslims only but has become a language of many youngsters who come and learn Urdu and take certificates from Jamia Milia University, Delhi.

The erudite scholar, Professor Parihar, said the people never thought that they will be able to sustain the journal. The famous writer, Khushwant Singh, commented when he received the copy of ‘Urdu Alive’: “How long will they continue with this kind of venture?” Prof N.S. Tasneem, the literary editor of the magazine, said, “We are glad that Khushwant Singh was proved wrong and our journal , of high literary standard, is going great guns. He said one issue was titled ‘Emigre’ Poets’ Issue. In this issue, the migrant poets through their writings expressed their problems and how their writings were different from Indian writers”.

The next issue is due in September and eminent poets Gulzar, Sayeed Jafri, Balraj Komal, Prof Gopi Chand Narang, Shamsur Rehman are journal’s regular contributors.


Scribes end protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
The five-day deadlock between the police the media here ended after the DSP accused of having misbehaved with some press photographers apologised. The District Magistrate has also ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

The Joint Action Committee of journalists, the police and the district administration today held a meeting and the issue was resolved amicably. An assurance was also given by Mr Suresh Arora, DIG Ludhiana range, that all police officials will accord due regard to journalists.

The joint-action committee, later called off the agitation. Mr S.K. Sandhu, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana said that identity cards would be issued by the administration to the press photographers to avoid problems to cover all the functions.


Mystery shrouds woman’s disappearance
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
Mystery shrouds the disappearance of a young wife of a migrant labourer, who had gone for a stroll near her house on August 25 and was not seen since then. Her husband and other relatives do not suspect anyone. They fear someone could have kidnapped her.

A complaint in this regard has been lodged with the Sherpur checkpost but the family is not aware whether any case has been registered on their complaint or not. The police has not given them a copy of the lodged complaint. The police version also could not be taken as a policeman at the checkpost said they have orders not to talk to the press.

According to Mr Rajesh Lal, the husband of the lost woman, she had come to the city just a month ago. They were married in 1998 but as he was not settled properly here, his wife stayed back at Dumran village in Bihar. He said their relation was cordial and there was no fight between them.


Minister to release edition on cow
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
Sri Sat Guru Jagjit Singhji of the Namdhari Sikhs will release ‘gau seva’ (cow service), a special edition of ‘Seva Sanskar’, a monthly magazine of the Seva Bharti, on September 2 at Bhaini Sahib at 5 p.m., according to a press note of the Seva Bharti. The function will be presided over by Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister. The edition contains articles from prominent authors, writers, economic experts which will give fillip to the movement for service and protection of cows in the country.


Woollen mill defrauds bank
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
A nationalised bank has been defrauded of over Rs 50 lakh by a firm by submitting false documents. The fraud was detected in the Chandigarh road, branch of the bank in Ludhiana. An inquiry is reportedly going on into the case and the bank is likely to get register an FIR against the company officials very soon.

It has been reliably learnt that M/s Liberty Woollen Mills, Chandigarh road, owned by Ram Lal Aggarwal and Ashok Aggarwal, had allegedly defrauded the bank by submitting false documents such as fabricated balance sheets and income and sales tax details. The bank has to recover an amount of about Rs 60 lakh from the company.

A detailed investigation into the case by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the mill had got a loan worth Rs 50 lakh sanctioned from the Chandigarh road branch of the bank in March 1999. Within one month of the sanctioning of the loan, the company got the working capital released. Instead of withdrawing Rs 30 lakh, for which it was entitled, the company got the working capital overdrawn by Rs 10 lakh.

The sources said that within one-and-a-half month of the withdrawal of Rs 40 lakh, it turned out to be a bad debt. For about two years the bank tried to use all possible methods to get back the money. Ultimately an inquiry was ordered by the Delhi head office of the bank and a team of bank inspectors investigated the matter.

The documents submitted by the firm to the bank were found to be false and fabricated. The audited balance sheets and the details of the sales tax and income tax were also been found to be fabricated. So much so that the chartered accountant who is claimed to have audited the balance sheet of the company does not exist.

It is not just the fabricated documents which have been submitted to the bank, but the building which has been mortgaged also does not exist. The cost of the building (although it does not exist) has been put at Rs 1 crore with Rs 50 lakh each for the plot and the building. The current market value of the plot has been put at Rs 20 lakh only.

Surprisingly the first disbursement of the loan worth over Rs 3 lakh is reported to have been credited into the account of a chartered accountant, Rajesh Kumar Aggarwal. The said CA is reportedly involved in several such deals and is also facing an inquiry.

This is not for the first time that the owners of the company have been found to defraud some financial institution. The same owners are reported to be owing over Rs 1 crore to another bank. The bank had reportedly issued a public notice in this matter, cautioning people and other financial institutions against dealing with these people.

Although senior officials of the bank are tight-lipped on the issue, but the involvement of some of the bank employees cannot be ruled out. After the inquiry report is submitted some heads are likely to roll for their various acts of omission and commission, they say.

Mr P.N. Khurana, general manager of the Feroze Gandhi Market branch of the bank, and Mr C.P. Mahajan assistant general manager of the Chandigarh road branch, said action would be taken after the inquiry was completed. They, however, refused to divulge any specific details about the case, but confirmed that the bank had been defrauded by the company.


Maruti to concentrate on middle-segment customers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 30
Maruti Udyog Limited will continue to concentrate on the middle-segment customers for the next five to seven years as the company has registered more than 17 per cent growth in this segment. The present share of the company in the up to 1000 cc segment is more than 90 per cent and the over all share of the company in the domestic market is 63.9 per cent, said Mr Junzo Sugimori, Director, Marketing and Sales.

He was in the city today to inaugurate a new company showroom. The new showroom is being opened by Stans Auto Limited. Mr Sugimori disclosed that the company’s Baleno model had not taken well by the market and the company was planning to replace the model with another one. Ludhiana has been identified as the big potential market by the company because of the income level, population and recent trends of the market.

The company is expecting a growth rate of about 10 per cent increase in sales in the coming years, he said, despite the entry of new competitors. The fuel efficiency, competitive cost and quality and vast sales network were the strong points of the company. The company has already launched CNG models in Delhi and Mumbai market, which could be launched in this region in case of adequate demand, he added. 


PNB branch declared best
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 30
The Punjab National Bank branch at Feroze Gandhi Market here has been declared ‘Best Branch’ in the state and ‘second Best Branch’ in India. Mr P.N. Khurana, General Manager, PNB, Punjab Zone, said this while presiding over a function held here yesterday. He said the bank had computerised over 70 per cent of its business.

Mr Khurana said this was not the ultimate goal to be second on the basis of performance, all members of the PNB family would try to achieve the first position on all-India basis. After this success, to improve the quality of service the collection system has been started in Ludhiana, he added.

Staff members of the branch were honoured for achieving the glorious positions. A customer meet was also organised in which 100 customers participated. 

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