Friday, October 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


A tale of cunning and deceit
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
It is a tale of cunning and deceit. A man conceives a plan to divorce an unsuspecting wife by not only committing fraud, but also getting himself declared as HIV positive. Apparently, having no reason to get rid of his wife, who could not conceive even after 12 years of marriage, a man in Prem Colony here sought the divorce from her by claiming in the court that he had been suffering from AIDS and could not continue to live with his wife.

According to Charanjit Kaur, she was “legally divorced” by her husband Balbir Singh of Prem Colony about six months ago on the false pretext that he was suffering from AIDS. She alleged that Balbir wanted to get rid of her as she had not been able to bear a child to him.

Charanjit Kaur, who had come to the Mini Secretariat to present the case at the weekly sangat darshan presided over by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, said that her husband wanted to desert her for a long time. However, he could not put forward any excuse which could become the basis for divorce.

Ultimately, he conceived a plan of his own. He allegedly procured some false medical investigation report, which diagnosed him of being HIV positive. At the same time, he allegedly managed to get her thumb impressions on some blank papers, which he later misused for getting the divorce.

Charanjit Kaur, who belongs to Subhash Nagar area, is the only sister of her four brothers. She was married to Balbir Singh in 1989. The couple seemed to get along very well in the initial years. As time passed by, her husband expected her to conceive, which she could not. The differences grew and Balbir wanted to get rid of her. However, she had nowhere to go and she resisted all attempts of divorce.

On April 23, 2001, Balbir got her thumb impressions on a set of blank papers, which he allegedly used for formalising the divorce. And it came as a rude shock to Charanjit to learn that she had been made to mark her thumb impressions on her own divorce papers. She said since she was illiterate and had no reasons to doubt her husband, she made the thumb impressions in good faith.

Her four brothers had got a case registration against Balbir in Basti Jodhewal police station on August 9, 2001. However, the police did not take any action against him. Charanjit Kaur maintains that her husband had procured forged medical documents which have declared him as HIV positive. She pointed out that had that been the case, she could herself have contacted the disease. She demanded that he should be examined afresh. The police, on the other hand, has been maintaining that Balbir had claimed that he had paid Rs 40,000 to Charanjit Kaur for making her agree to the divorce. This is being strongly denied by Charanjit and her brothers.


Kidney racket suspects still at large
VVIP visits hamper police working
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
VVIP visits to the city during the past one week have proved a boon for at least five suspects in the infamous kidney racket, who managed to slip away before a police party could actually move in to nab them.

Even as a police party is learnt to have been dispatched to Patiala for gathering information about the preparation of some fake records prepared in the case of a kidney donor and to possibly arrest a municipal councillor and some public servants, besides conducting raids at some places, including some hospitals in this city, sources revealed that not much immediate success is expected in the case as the police has lost vital time in nabbing the suspects and the chief accused, Amritpal Singh.

A week after the kidney racket came to light in the city following the filing of a complaint by three donors, the police has only succeeded in gathering information but has failed to arrest any person other than an alleged agent, Rajesh Kumar, who is presently in judicial custody. Sources said at least five raids had been planned by the police in the last one week but all of these could not materialise due to the urgent requirement of providing police security to the VVIPs. In the last week, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, visited the city twice while another two days were spent on arranging security for the visit of the DGP Police, Mr Sarbjit Singh, and a meeting on police security for the National Games.

Mr Badal will again be visiting the city on October 20 for another function, where several VIPs are also scheduled to be present. Sources said the police had almost finalised preparations for raids on two city clinics but could not do so. In fact the accused, Rajesh, had revealed the address of the main accused, Amritpal Singh, and five other suspects who were staying together but the police could not conduct raids on the premises.


Multi-crore gambling gets off to frantic start
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
Although Divali is almost a month away, gambling has already touched new heights in Ludhiana, with amounts involved in the bids running in crores. A few leading and luxurious hotels, some elite clubs and private places of some top industrialists have already become gambling dens where crores of rupees are transacted daily.

According to sources, only recently over Rs 5 crore were transacted during a single day’s gambling in one of the rooms of a luxurious Ludhiana hotel. The players included three top industrialists of Ludhiana, besides a few bookies who had come from different parts of the state, like Jalandhar and Chandigarh. The gamblers did not restrict themselves to the traditional mode of cards but reportedly used the dice also for putting up the bids.

The sources say, while Rs 5 crore has been the highest amount that changed hands during a single day’s game on a particular day, on an average Rs 2 to Rs 3 crore has been transacted continuously daily for at least three weeks about a month ago.

Three prominent industrialists, who are well known in gambling circles, reportedly belong to Udham Singh Nagar, Industrial Area on the Chandigarh road and Sarabha Nagar. Besides, the three leading bookies of the state have also gambled here continuously for several days. Given the huge amount involved some bookies have still to receive their amount they have won in the gamble.

This is not the only instance of large-scale gambling involving huge money in Ludhiana. Some of the elite clubs, including those with exclusive women membership, have also become ‘good gambling centres’ with daily bids and transactions running into several lakhs. And not surprisingly, at times the gambling takes legendary proportions with some people even putting their entire property at stake.

In a few cases, some people have put their wives at stake in the past and the issue then hogged the limelight for several months.

Like any other ‘business’ in Ludhiana which involves huge money, the gambling has also become as an organised enterprise with some people devoting their entire time and energy to organise gambling.

Two prominent persons, with good political connections and social standing are said to be the top organisers of gambling in Ludhiana. And they have not restricted their operations to Ludhiana only, but beyond the city borders as they organise tours of gamblers to Nepal and of late to erstwhile Russian states as well.

While one of these patrons organises regular tours to Nepal, as an agent of a casino owner, another is believed to be doing the same for some casinos located in some places in Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which were earlier a part of the Soviet Union.

People have reportedly lost interest in Nepal and they now prefer to visit the CIS countries, where they can also satisfy their carnal desires, as flesh trade is also said to be very cheap there. ‘‘In fact it is cheaper there than in India’’, a source disclosed.

As the Divali draws near, the gambling is likely to pick up further with more and more people coming to play the ‘big game’ in Ludhiana. The gambling operations are carried out in an intelligent and clandestine manner that these leave hardly any scope of expose.

One police official, when contacted, pointed out the difficulty in raiding the rooms of luxurious hotels. The police, he said, could not act in such cases, unless it was sure and certain that the information was correct. Otherwise it would amount to inviting trouble only, he pointed out, given the influence and clout of the people involved.


Panel urges PAU to hand over molestation case to police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to direct the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to follow the guidelines prescribed by the Supreme Court (SC) and hand over the molestation case of an M.Sc student to the police, alleging that the PAU teachers association was pressurising the university authorities to get the teacher, who was suspended and chargesheeted for sexual harassment, exonerated.

IHRO chairperson, Mr D.S. Gill, also urged PAU VC, Dr K.S. Aulakh, that, for taking disciplinary action against the suspended teacher. Quoting a part of the judgement given by the Supreme Court in a similar case, Mr Gill said, “The complaint’s committee should be headed by a woman and not less than half of its members should be women,” as it was a law laid down by the SC in case of Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan AIR 1997 SC 3011.

The IHRO further said that to prevent the possibility of any undue pressure or influence from senior levels, such committee should involve either an NGO or any other body, who is familiar with the issue of sexual harassment, according to the SC, said the IHRO in its letter to the VC, quoting media reports that the reigning PAUTA seems to extend an unbridled support to the accused teacher.

Mr Gill further said that the IHRO had already written to the Vice-Chancellor to involve the organisation in the case stating, “We as an NGO, would like to be involved in this case as per law laid down by the SC and we will act as Amicus Curiae, a friend of the committee, to render assistance and counselling to deal with the matter.”

Regarding criminal proceedings, the letter said, the SC says: “Where such conduct amounts to a specific offence under the Indian Penal Code or any other law, the employer or the head of the institution (the VC in this case) shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with law by making a complaint (FIR) with the appropriate authority (police).”

The organisation urged the VC to immediately initiate criminal action against the teacher in accordance with law by making a complaint (FIR) to the police and constitute a time-bound complaint committee, involving an NGO, into the matter.

Dr Aulakh had suspended Dr Harmit Singh Thind, an Associate Professor of the Department of Soils, last month on recommendations of the committee headed by Dr S.K. Mann, Dean College of Home Science, chargesheeting the teacher for alleged sexual abuse.

The IHRO inquiry committee comprising, M.S. Grewal and Dr Kanwaljit Kaur Bal, chairperson, and Inderjit Kaur, secretary, women’s wing, had also endorsed the university’s report and found the teacher guilty of maltreatment, indignity, seduction and molestation of his MSc girl student.


MC Commissioner to focus on development, civic amenities
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
The new Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Mr R.L. Kalsia, who assumed office here this morning, appears to be buzzing with several ideas to not only maintain the tempo of ongoing major development works here but to also give further impetus to the process of development and civic amenities.

In an interview with Ludhiana Tribune shortly after formally taking charge, Mr Kalsia, a 1988 batch IAS officer who was transferred here from the post of Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, said that he was dedicated to development. “Among my priorities will be projects that are related to infrastructure development, like the three flyovers which are under construction, road along side Budha Nulla and works related to improvement in traffic in the city.”

Vowing to bring about qualitative improvement in the civic amenities, he remarked that it was indeed a gigantic task to fulfil the aspirations of a mammoth city. “We have not only to provide basic amenities at a reasonably good level but there is dire need to create a civic culture. Unless the citizens extend their full cooperation and each individual makes contribution towards this direction, the dream to make the city a better place to live will remain unfulfilled.”

Mr Kalsia, who has already initiated necessary steps to acclimatise himself with the day-to-day working of the civic body and had series of meetings with senior and middle -level MC officials during the day, made no bones about rampant corruption in the MC, which he observed was prevalent every where. He said he had been committed to a clean and transparent administration during his earlier postings and would leave no stone unturned to cleanse the system with the cooperation of the elected representatives and the workforce of the MC.

Mr Kalsia further said that he would ensure easier access to members of public and free flow of information to the media, which can play a significant role in civic matters. He would also focus on speedy redress of public grievances, for which a proposal to set up a single window for all kinds of civic complaints was already under consideration.

Commenting on the agitation of a section of safai workers, which was continuing since September 14 after 160 odd daily wage workers, having put in years of service, were sacked, he told that the agitating employees were called for discussion and a sub-committee, headed by Deputy Mayor Santosh Aneja, had been set up to examine the issue and submit its report by Monday. He made it clear that the administration would be responsive to the genuine problems of the employees, but at the same time, they would also be required to be responsible and do their duty diligently.

He indicated that a general reshuffle of the workforce was on cards, particularly for those working on the same post for a considerable period.


No need to panic over anthrax: experts
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, October 18
As the anthrax scare spreads across the world, medical fraternity in the city advises residents not to panic. Anthrax already exists in the Indian environment, but does not affect human beings unless specifically directed as a weapon of biological warfare. The only people susceptible are those involved in trade of animal hide.

Therefore at a time when not only the USA but the whole world is reeling under the scare of anthrax, anxiety and apprehension among city residents is natural. But the doctors say that there is no reason to be scared.

Though not a single case of anthrax has been reported in the country so far, yet there are apprehensions arising from the thought that the terrorists might target the Indians.

“The disease is also called splenic fever, malignant pustule or woolsorters’ disease. It is acute and infectious disease of animals, including humans, caused by bacillus anthracis, an organism that under certain conditions forms highly resistant spores capable of persisting and retaining their virulence in contaminated soil or other material for over 20 years,” said Dr Alka Dogra, Head of the Dermatology Department of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune today.

“Generally, people handling the animal products were more vulnerable to the disease. The infection can be acquired by persons handling the wool, hair, hides, bones or carcasses of affected animals, adds Dr Dogra.

Dr Poonam, another skin specialist, said anthrax in humans occurred as cutaneous, pulmonary or intestinal infection. The most common type occurred as a primary localised infection of the skin in the form of a carbuncle. It usually resulted from handling infected material, lesions occurring mostly on the hands, arms or neck as a small pimple that develop rapidly into a large vesicle with black narcotic centre.

Dr Dogra said the cutaneous anthrax was fatal between 5 to 20 per cent. In acute cases, patients start feeling bad with high fever and laziness. The brain also gets involved and the patient can die also if not given treatment on time. Prompt diagnosis and early treatment are of great importance, adds Dr Dogra.


Sikh education conference on Oct 21
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
Students, staff and management representatives from several Sikh educational institutions of India will participate in a Sikh academic conference to be held at Gujranwala Guru Nanak Khalsa College, Civil Lines, here on October 21.

This was stated by Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, at a press conference held at the college here yesterday. He said that the problems of Sikh educational institutions would be listened to and an effort would be made to find solutions to them.

Giani Kewal Singh said that a similar conference was organised on October 21 and 22 last year at Talwandi Sabo, but fewer delegates were invited. He said that some solutions were discussed at that time on the basis of which a constitution has been formed. He said that the constitution would be passed at the conference on Sunday after taking the consent of major delegates participating in it.

Giani Kewal Singh said that Vice-Chancellors of several universities were expected to reach the conference. He said that the members of the conference would form an association called Sikh Educational Foundation. He appealed to the Sikh educational institutions to get them registered with the foundation as soon as possible.


Dharna by BSNL employees
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
A dharna was held here today in front of the office of the General Manager Telecom on a call given by centre headquarters of the BSNL Employees Union.

Mr Balwinder Singh, district secretary of the union, in a press statement said that the dharna was held against the government’s policies of disinvestment and privatisation of the BSNL. He said the government had adopted dilly-dallying attitude and was not considering their genuine demands. The members also said that telephone factories of the BSNL should be modernised and not closed.

Mr H.D. Sharma, district president, in his address called upon the employees to unite against the policies of government. He said the verification of membership for the identification of majority union would take place in the first week of December.

Among those present on the occasion included Mr Sarabjit Singh, Mr Ramesh Lal, Mr Jaswant Singh, Mr Paramjit Singh, Mr Darshan Singh, Mr Shingara Singh, Mr Manjit Singh and Mr Ajaib Singh.


New IT office at Jagraon
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
A new income tax office has been opened at Jagraon, which will become operational from tomorrow.

There are 12,000 tax payers in Jagraon and Raikot tehsils of Ludhiana district. To facilitate these assessees and their counsels in tax matters, the Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Ludhiana, has decided to open office at Jagraon.


1 kg opium seized, one held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 18
The CIA wing of the city police arrested a resident of Haryana from the Sarabha Nagar area yesterday with 1 Kg of opium. A case under Sections 18, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against the accused at the Sarabha Nagar police station.

Constable injured: A police constable, Baldev Singh, was seriously injured when he was hit by a speeding scooter (PB-10-AN-6846) on the main road outside the SSP’s office yesterday. The scooterist fled from the scene. The Division No. 5 police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337 and 506 of the IPC.

One booked: The division No. 5 police has registered a case under sections 406 and 420 of the IPC against Sham Lal, a resident of Gopal Nagar, on the complaint of Mr Vijay Pal, a resident of the same locality. The complainant had alleged that the accused took his scooter (PB-10-AN-2694) by fraudulent means and did not return the same to him as promised by him.

Beaten: The Haibowal police has registered a case under sections 342,506,323 and 34 of the IPC against Inderjit Kaur, her husband Jagtar Singh, Jagtar Singh and Jasvir Singh, all residents of Haibowal, on the statement of Ms Kiran Chopra, a resident of Lakshmi Nagar. The complainant had alleged in her complaint that all the accused entered her house forcibly and beat her up. The accused also threatened her of dire consequences before leaving.

In another case of beating, the Model Town police has registered a case under sections 323, 324, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Mukhtiar Chand, a resident of Manohar Nagar, against Shanti, Mukesh, Ashu and Nita, all residents of White Quarters, Dhuri Line, and four other unknown persons. The complainant had alleged that the accused beat him up in front of his house and also threatened him.

Knife seized: Romesh Kumar, a resident of Hisar was arrested yesterday from Raj Guru Nagar by Mr Balbir Singh, Head Constable at Sarabha Nagar, during special checking and a knife was recovered from his possession. The accused has been booked under Sections 25,54 and 59 of the Arms Act.


2 killed: Two people were killed and one was injured in a collision between a truck and an Ambassador car at Chakk Sarwan Nath village, near Kohara, today. According to an eyewitness Sewa Singh of Gochan village near Korali, Ropar, a truck (PB12D0-9780) hit an Ambassador car (DNA-2865) early in the morning and fled from the place. Among the three occupants of the car, Lajja Ram and Ramkaran died on the spot while Harbans Lal was admitted to the CMC Hospital. The ill-fated car was going from Ludhiana towards Chandigarh. A case has been registered against the truck driver under Sections 279, 304-A and 427 of the IPC at Sahnewal police station.

Case registered: A factory manager has lodged a complaint with the Sahnewal police against a transport company alleging the company of fraud. Mr J.S. Gurm, Manager of Aarti International, has alleged that they had sent 370 carton of thread worth Rs 21 lakh to New Delhi from export on a tractor (HR-38D-0026) but the material did not reach the place assigned. A case of fraud has been registered under Section 407 of the IPC against the owner of the transport and the driver of the tractor.

Injured: Satnam Singh (10) was injured when Neena of Bankar Gujran, driving a scooter (PB-10C-8638), hit him. He has been hospitalised and a case under Sections 279, 337 and 338 of the IPC has been registered at the Sahnewal police station.


Two-year-old girl raped
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
In a shocking incident, a two-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a 30-year-old man in Dabur Colony in Basti Jodhewal last night. The case came to light this evening when the girl’s parents came for her medical examination at the local Civil Hospital.

According to sources, a case has been registered under Section 376 of the IPC against Mohjib a neighbour of the girl’s family. The girl’s mother in her statement said that the man was married and had four sons, but lived alone here.

She saw the man raping her daughter last night at his house. When she raised a hue and cry, the man fled from for the scene.

The police said the man is absconding.


5 booked for demanding dowry
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, October 18
On a complaint lodged by Mrs Randeep, the local police has booked her husband Ranjodh Singh, father-in-law Jitender Singh, mother-in-law Harbans Kaur, sister-in-law Ashwinder Kaur and brother-in-law Amolakh Singh for demanding dowry.

The complainant had alleged that her in-laws subjected her to mental and physical harassment due to insufficient dowry.

She had been beaten up number of times during her stay at Amritsar, at her in-laws’ house. She demanded recovery of goods and cash worth Rs 7 lakh, which her father had given them at the time of marriage.


CII fair starts today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
The third Ludhiana fair of the Confederation of Indian Industry would be inaugurated by the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here tomorrow. About 100 companies in the automobile, health, infotech and consumer durables sector are expected to exhibit their products in this four-day fair.

Regarding the preparations, Mr Chandrajit Singh, Regional Director, CII, Northern Region, said: “The fair is being launched as part of the CII’s efforts to boost business and manufacturing industry in Punjab. It would be an umbrella event for seven focused exhibitions, including ICE, 2001, North India Auto Show, Good Health 2001, Consumer Fair 2K1, Kitchen, Decor 2001 and Finmart.”

Mr Sunil Munjal of the Hero group of Industries was of the view that this year’s fair was expected to be 20 per cent bigger than the last year’s fair. It is expected that to generate Rs 12 crore business as compared to Rs 8 crore business of the last fair. The objective of the fair is to initiate economic growth in the region and to educate consumers to the new technologies and products in the field of IT and communication and other sectors, he added. The major companies participating in the fair included Fiat Palio, Mahindra and Mahindra in the auto sector, INALSA and BRAUN, Spice and BSNL in other sectors.

He disclosed that despite general global slowdown, the response to the fair has been positive so far. About 100 companies will display their wide array of products to an expected 1,50,000 visitors, making it a popular business to consumer (B2C) model. The fair would also provide effective business to business (B2B) networking.

Mr S.P. Oswal, MD, Oswal group, said: “The CII’s fair has assumed even greater significance in view of the current economic downturn and demanding consumers. It will be followed by similar events at Lucknow from November 2 to 5 at Chandigarh, from November 9 to 12 and at Kanpur from December 22 to 25, 2001.”

Interestingly, when asked why the local cycle and hosiery industry has not been involved in the fair, Mr Munjal and Mr Oswal said that the local cycle industry had adequate exposure in the region, and the hosiery industrialists were reluctant to show their products at the fair as they feared that their competitors might copy their designs. However, about 50 per cent of the companies participating in the fair are from the region, they said.

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