Friday, November 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

 

 

Arhtia robbed of Rs 5 lakh at gunpoint
Tribune News Service



The police at the scene of the crime.

Ludhiana, November 8
In a broad daylight robbery in the city, two scooter-borne youths robbed an arhtia of Rs 5 lakh at gunpoint near the Punjab National Bank, 50 yards away from Salemtabri police station, at about 11.30 a.m. today.

Rajinder Singh, owner of Gian Singh Kirpal Singh and Sons’ at New Sabzi Mandi, had come to deposit Rs 5 lakh in the bank. However, he was about 20 yards away from the bank, when two youths, one wearing a helmet and second supporting a beard, stopped him and tried to snatch his bag containing the amount.

As the burly youth did not let it go and struggled with the robbers, they took out a revolver and managed to loot the youth at gunpoint. According to the victim, the robbers ran away on a black Chetak scooter. Its number was PB-10-AD-8547.

A PCO-owner tried to chase the robbers on his scooter, but the robbers managed to run away. According to eye-witnesses, two police constables posted outside the bank did not make any effort to chase the culprits. However, according to the police version, the constables did try to chase the robbers.

The incident has put a question mark on the security claims of the district police in the city, especially outside banks. The police were earlier facing the music for not resolving three similar robberies outside different banks three months ago.

SSP H.S. Sidhu, talking to mediapersons outside the bank, expressed confidence that the robbers would be nabbed soon. He said the police had got vital clues about the robbers. The SSP said the police was already on the lookout for one of the robbers active in the region and suspect him to be involved in the incident. The SSP suspected the involvement of some persons close to the victim as someone must have definite information about the depositing of money. He said the victim had revealed that he used to send his employees to deposit small amounts but whenever it was a heavy amount he used to go himself.

When asked about the courage of the robbers to effect a robbery near a police station, the SSP replied that if proximity to a police station could act as a deterrent for the criminals, he would have opened police stations everywhere in the city.

The SSP also claimed that the two police constables on duty near the bank were not negligent as one of them was riding pillion with the PCO-owner, who chased the robbers. When told that the eye-witnesses had reported to the contrary, the SSP said, ‘‘You can write it.’’

A large number of anxious persons gathered on the spot were, however, full of praise for the PCO-owner Ashok Virmani, who risked his life to chase the robbers. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune Ashok Virmani said, he was sitting in the PCO booth when he heard the noise of a commotion and saw Rajinder Singh struggling with two youths, one of whom was wearing a helmet. He said when he rushed out, the robbers were about to escape on the black scooter. However, their scooter lost balance and they almost fell down. He said he was about to pounce on them but they managed to control the scooter and sped away.

He said he chased them on his scooter alone but lost the robbers in the crowd.

Interestingly, one hour after the incident, the police sealed the area and erected ‘nakas’ on the GT road near the bank. Every scooter-rider was stopped and his papers were being verified. A number of persons were seen arguing with the police that they were being unnecessarily harassed as the robbers must have gone far away by that time, but to no avail.

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Cop’s murder: contract killer held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The Jagraon police has arrested an alleged contract killer and former terrorist, Baldev Singh, in the murder of Yadvinder Singh Yadoo, a Punjab Police constable and main witness of an alleged rape case involving a Punjab Police DSP.

The murder took place on July 20 and the police thereafter arrested Lakhbir Singh Lali of Bassian village on charge of hiring three contract killers. Two other alleged contract killers namely Balwinder Singh Bhunder and Harjinder are still at large.

With the arrest of Baldev Singh, the police claimed to have unearthed the murder plot. According to the SSP, Jagraon, Mr Balkar Singh, the accused Lakhbir Singh Bholla and Baldev Singh had joined together in the case not because of any common enmity with the victim but as a marriage of convenience. The SSP said Baldev Singh was in jail facing trial in another infamous case of the murder of a couple and met Lakhbir Singh in the jail.

He said Baldev Singh wanted to commit another murder and asked Lakhbir Singh to help him. He also wanted to settle score with some person and agreed. However, when he came out he learnt that Yadvinder Singh had quarreled with his brother and threatened him over some dispute. Yadvinder Singh, a former gunman of DSP Ashok Puri, had even fired some shots at a shop owned by Bholla’s brother.

The SSP said this infuriated Lakhbir Singh, who allegedly connived with Baldev Singh to kill Yadvinder Singh. He said Baldev Singh, who was arrested in Bihar, was brought here on remand today.

The case was largely reported in the media as it was feared that Yadvinder Singh could have been killed due to his status of being the prime witness in the rape case.

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Police turns heat on illegal cracker sellers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
As many as nine persons, indulging in illegal sale of crackers were arrested and a huge quantity of crackers was seized by the police in a crackdown in wake of the tragic fire at Jawahar Nagar market on Tuesday evening. One such massive raid at the shop of a well-known political leader at Field Gunj here today however, has stirred up a controversy as the raiding party was being accused of treating the businessman lightly by not seizing a single cracker from his shop allegedly due to his ‘influence’.

The police raided a number of shops in Guru Arjun Dev Nagar, Tajpur in Focal Point, Jawahar Nagar and Haibowal. A truckload of crackers and firearms sold illegally from a shop in Jawahar Nagar where the fire took place was seized by the Division No 5 police.

Tension prevailed in Field Gunj when an SDM, accompanied by a posse of policemen, raided a large shop belonging to a political leader. However, official sources disclosed that as the businessman had valid licence, no action could be taken against him. The raiding party thus returned empty-handed. However, a number of relatives of some persons arrested yesterday and today by the police on the same charge called up the Ludhiana Tribune sub-office and accused the police of ‘selective action’ against the illegal cracker sellers.

The relatives said that while the police seized a huge quantity of crackers and firearms from a shop stocking material worth Rs 2 lakh, not a single cracker was seized from the Field Gunj shop, where material worth Rs 30 lakh was stored. Interestingly, sources disclosed that even if the businessman had a valid licence, he could not store such huge quantity of combustible material at one place.

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Zeroing in on Dawood’s city link
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Intelligence agencies have reportedly zeroed in on a local businessman for his links with Dubai-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. The businessman is allegedly an important link for D-company, as the Dawood gang is known in the underworld and in intelligence circles, in gambling and betting operations, running into hundreds of crores of rupees. Crores have reported to have gone from the city in the account of Dawood with the help of the said businessman.

The flow of money is reportedly still going on, after a lull in the operations for some time. The businessman, who deals in auto parts, is believed to be a leading gambler, who also places crores on betting during cricket matches. The dampened gambling spirit this year, despite the festive season having arrived, is attributed to the outflow of at least Rs 50 crore from the city, through betting, on various cricket matches during the past one year, in which the businessman has allegedly played a prominent role. He is learnt to have lost a huge amount.

There has not been any big gambling in the city on the eve of Divali this time round. The reason is that the money of gamblers has gone to bookies, through them to Chhota Shakeel and Abu Salem, and ultimately to Dawood.

This is not for the first time that the local businessman has come under the notice of investigation agencies. His links with D-company had been questioned a few years back. He is reported to have developed these links through notorious gangster Ramesh Sharma, currently in jail under various charges of murder, extortion and other criminal offences.

The businessman and Sharma had reportedly fallen apart and the former had hired some personal security guards, fearing that the latter might harm him or get him abducted. He did away with security after Sharma was arrested, which he also celebrated.

During an earlier investigation, the businessman had reportedly been let off following lack of evidence against him. Though it had been claimed that an intelligence agency was in possession of his recorded conversation with Abu Salem, the case could not be proceeded with further. During the conversation, Abu Salem had reportedly threatened him of dire consequences in case he did not made the payments pending on account of betting.

After that investigation, the businessman had reportedly cut down on his activities and had withdrawn from betting and gambling for about a year. As things cooled down, the businessman restarted his activities. While he is reported to have made others lose at least Rs 30 crore during the past one year, he himself has lost Rs 10 crore during this period.

The businessman is also alleged to be in connivance with a financier, who claims to be the tycoon of private financing in the city, runs some illegal finance companies and organises committees worth crores. Money is lent to those who lose bets and in gambling on high rate of interest with harsh terms and conditions as they have no other option. A number of local businessmen have reported to have fallen in their trap and are still repaying loans taken from the duo, with most of them having gone bankrupt.

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Anil Jain surrenders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Anil Jain, the main accused in the case of murder of his brother Sunil Jain, surrendered here today before the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr A.K. Sharma. He was accompanied by his wife Sangeeta Jain and his advocate, besides a few friends.

Anil Jain was evading arrest for last few weeks after his bail was cancelled by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a petition of Rima Jain, wife of the deceased. Subsequently, a local court had issued non-bailable warrants against Anil Jain.

Anil Jain had appealed in the Supreme Court seeking stay on his arrest. However, his plea for the stay was dismissed on November 6.

There was a minor scuffle in the court room and outside when Anil Jain came to surrender. Accompanied by his lawyer and some relatives, including wife, he tried to make a quiet entry into the courtroom in the morning hours. However, the news photographers who were waiting there for some time spotted him out to take his picture. They were prevented from taking photographs. But some of the cameramen managed to click his photograph while he was being escorted to the police vehicle waiting outside the court.

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Raid on MC horticulture wing
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau this afternoon raided the Horticulture Department of the Municipal Corporation, seized records of the utilisation of funds and questioned a number of senior officials. The raids were conducted on information that there was misutilisation of funds.

An official of the Vigilance Department said it had received specific information about the misutilisation of funds in the Horticulture wing. He said though no official was formally arrested, a number of employees, including senior officials, were questioned.

Reports in a section of the press claimed the Horticulture Department had allegedly duped the MC by showing wrong transaction of money, especially in relation to payment to the Mohalla Sanitation Committee. An internal inquiry of the MC on the allegations was also conducted.

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Sex ratio: can we recover the balance?
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
The Guru Angad Dev Sewa Society, in association with UNICEF and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, will organise a state-level workshop on female foeticide at Farmers Sewa Centre, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana on November 22 and November 23, 2001. The workshop will be inaugurated by Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Cabinet Health Minister, Punjab.

The alarming results of the latest census indicating a sharp bias in the male-female ratio favouring the males, specially in Punjab, has vexed the minds of all right thinking people.

About 150 participants from different walks of life, such as doctors, educationists, religious preachers, special activists and researchers, NGOs, health department officials and members of the police and administration will participate in the workshop.

Eminent resource persons who will address the congregation include, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Sri Akal Takht Sahib; Dr Parmod from the Institute of Development and Communication; Dr Geeta Athreya and Dr S.K. Chaturvedi from UNICEF; Mr K.K. Bhatnagar IAS, Principal Secretary PSHRC and Dr Joginder Singh, Director, Health Services, Punjab.

This information was given by Dr A.S. Nagpal, President of Guru Angad Dev Sewa Society. He said that broad topics to be discussed in the workshop include adverse sex ratio, causes and consequences; male child preference, prenatal diagnostic act, role of religion in combating female foeticide, psychological and physical effects of abortion on women, role of media, women’s rights and status of women.

He said that after two days of deliberations, the participants will suggest ways and means of combating female foeticide. He said enacting laws alone will not solve the problems.

If left unchecked, female foeticide will permanently damage the demographic balance. This will, in turn, lead to rise in sexual crimes against girls and women. Only a concerted effort by all members of society will be able to resolve this problem.

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No voting in SGPC poll without fresh enrolment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
The Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Election Commission, has said enrolment of voters for elections to the general house of the SGPC is mandatory as only the fresh voters would be eligible to cast their votes in the coming elections to the SGPC. The voters list for the 1996 elections will not be applicable in the next SGPC elections.

This clarification was given at a meeting of representatives of political parties, Sikh organisations and officials of the state government held at Chandigarh under the presidentship of Justice Harbans Singh (retired), Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Election Commission, yesterday.

The meeting was convened to review the progress of the enlistment of voters, both amritdhari Sikhs and Sehajdharis, for SGPC elections which are likely to be held after the Vidhan Sabha polls in Punjab.

Justice Harbans Singh asked the parties to give wide publicity to the issue and enlist more voters. There has been reportedly a very lukewarm response to the enlistment of voters the process for which started on September 3. The last date for enrolment of the voters was fixed for November 2. The Gurdwara Election Commission has now extended the date for enrolment by another 40 days, said Mr Gurdev Singh, Secretary, Gurdwara Election Commission.

According to Mr Gurdev Singh the number of voters for the last SGPC elections was about 50 lakh - both amritdhari Sikhs and the Sehajdharis. This time, the enrolment has reportedly been just over a lakh so far.

The Gurdwara Election Commission is supposed to enrol voters in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. The commission had printed as many as 65 lakh forms for the enlistment purposes.

Mr Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar) has urged the commission to give advertisements in newspapers regarding the enlistment of voters.

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Anti-encroachment drive or a farce?
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, November 8
For the past 10 days or so, trucks of the Municipal Corporation, led by Tehbazari officials in another van, have been patrolling the city and carrying away rehris, benches and even parked scooters hindering the traffic.

Last night, one such squad visited the Katchehri road area near Ghanta Ghar. Shopkeepers started pulling in extensions and the rehriwalas fled to safer places. For a while, the road became wide, comfortable for the commuters to traverse. Fine.

But in the morning today, the road was back to its old ways with the same extensions and almost the same number of rehris doing business as usual.

The scene has been enacted and re-enacted so many times that it has come to be regarded as a drama.

As a result of the so-called anti-encroachments drive being undertaken these days, room number 79, which houses the Tehbazari office at the back of the multi-storied municipal parking, is humming with activity. Scores of men, whose rehris etc have been carted away to various dumps, start arriving even before the office opens for the day.

These men are usually accompanied by influential persons who are either close to the area councillors or are activists of a political party. After some initial reluctance and diffidence, these men are allowed to take possession of their respective things in return for a fine ranging from Rs 100 to 1,000.

A rehri is normally let out for Rs 500 plus another hundred or so as ‘chai-pani’ expenses. Which means that these men are back into the business. It seems that the only purpose of the Tehbazari Department is to generate a regular income for the corporation by way of fines.

Such raids can never provide a lasting solution to the problem of traffic congestion in the city. In order to check this menace, alternative arrangements will have to be made which could obviate the need of these roadside sellers.

Go to the CMC or any other hospital of the city, you will find a number of tea stalls, a fruit vendor or two, a cigarette seller on the road outside the hospital. Can’t these services be provided on the hospital premises itself?

Similarly, there are other institutions such as banks and the Secretariat where rehriwalas can be seen catering to the employees’ requirements. Unless adequate alternative arrangements are made, the menace will continue.

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Congmen seek action 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
Congress and Youth Congress activists today criticised Mr Jagmeet Brar and Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta for indulging in ‘anti-party’ activities and called upon the party high command to take stern disciplinary action against them in order to send a loud and clear message to others having similar ideas.

At a meeting presided over by Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, several prominent party functionaries charged Mr Brar, a member of Lok Sabha, with making a most undesirable outburst against the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, in his ‘lust for political power’. Recalling the anti-party and anti-national activities of Mr Brar in the past, the Congress activists observed that act of Mr Brar in patting on the back of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was nothing strange in view of his earlier track record.

Mr Ghalib announced that he would soon lead a deputation of party colleagues to the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and Mr Moti Lal Vora, in charge of Punjab affairs, to apprise them of opportunist party functionaries like Mr Brar and to impress upon them the need for disciplinary action.

Meanwhile, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, senior vice-president, Punjab Youth Congress, has taken strong exception to the reported statement of Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, Chairman, All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, against Ms Sonia Gandhi. In a statement, Mr Tikka and several other YC activists cautioned Mr Bitta to desist from making such utterances to gain cheap popularity, failing which the Youth Congress workers would be forced to take retaliatory steps. Mr Tikka further observed that Mr Bitta, a former Chairman, Indian Youth Congress, had lost his political base in Punjab and was running the Anti-Terrorist Front simply for his personal motives.

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SSF activists demonstrate against POTO
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
Activists of the All India Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) today staged a demonstration to protest against the introduction of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO) being promulgated by the union government. The speakers at the demonstration were apprehensive that the POTO might be misused against minorities.

Addressing the demonstrators, the president of the federation, Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, alleged that the Central Government was bringing in the ordinance to cover up its weaknesses as it had failed at all fronts. Mr Grewal said the federation would create countrywide opinion against the ordinance to prevent its passage in the parliament.

The federation leader pointed out that during the time of militancy, similar law, TADA, was indiscriminately used against the Sikhs in Punjab and thousands of Sikh youth were victimised under this act. He said, the federation will not allow same thing to be repeated.

Federation leaders appealed the government not to go ahead with this draconian law as this would not in any way help in controlling terrorism, but would be misused across the country.

He also appealed the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to use his influence at the centre to drop this ordinance.

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Ludhianvis have a ball
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
The Doubloon (the gold coin) organised a ball at a local hotel in which the couple, dressed in the formals, danced for over two hours on foot-tapping by DJ Bijan and the Gang, here last night.

The Winter-Ball, a pre-Divali dance party was organised to mark the start of the most awaited celebration season in India. The party was woven in the colours of rangoli, diyas, fun, and happiness. The couples were allowed entry on invitation passes.

The DJ rightly felt the mood of the participants and tried to present something unique everytime. women were dressed in both traditional and western formal outfits. Some of the couples came to the party with their tiny tots who seemed to enjoy their parents dancing on the floor.

Various Hindi, Punjabi and English numbers were played, but repeated requests were made for Bhangra music. Latest Punjabi hits of Jassi, Daler Mehandi and Harbhajan Maan, were quite a hit with the participants.

Both young and the old, took to the dance floor with gusto and danced merrily.

The organisers gave surprise gifts to the best dressed female, the best dancing couple and the best dancing male.

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Reduce length of overbridge, demand residents
Our Correspondent

Khanna, November 8
Hundreds of residents of the Samrala road area gathered in front of the SDM’s office demanding reduction in the length of the railway overbridge being constructed at the Samrala road Railway crossing here yesterday evening. The SDM, Mr Pardeep Sabharwal, called the XEN PWD (Bridges), Mr Haripal, who assured the residents that the length of the overbridge would be reduced as per earlier proposal.

The residents, led by Naresh Mehta, said they would have to face difficulties if the length of the overbridge was not reduced. According to Mr O.S. Dev of Gammon India Limited, the bridge was being constructed at a slope gradient of 1/40 and its length would be around 910 m.

The residents are demanding that the bridge should be constructed at slope gradient of 1/30 which would reduce its length automatically.

According to residents, the Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during a sangat darshan at Khanna on September 6, had assured them that the length of the bridge would be reduced to 660 m. But according to officials of the construction company, they had not received any instructions from the government in this regard so far.

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BSNL extends rural area package
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
Eleven villages have come under the Mullanpur-Dakha telephone exchange. Residents of these villages heaved a sigh of relief as after months of litigation the BSNL has accepted their demand of charging telephone rent as per package for rural areas.

Earlier they were charged according to the urban areas package under which they had to pay Rs 500 as rent for two months with only 150 calls limit. But now under the rural package they would have to pay Rs 220 as rent with 250 calls limit. The BSNL made this declaration in an affidavit submitted to the local District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, today.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhatal, who has challenged the BSNL’s decision in the forum, stated that the BSNL was treating the area as urban area because it comes in Ludhiana district. He said, “Ludhiana could be treated as urban area because it fulfills all conditions applied to the urban area. But rural areas like Mullanpur and Dakha in Ludhiana district could not be treated as the part of the city”.

In the petition, Mr Bhatal demanded the benefit of rural package. But before any judgement was passed by the forum, the BSNL extended the benefit to the area with effect form July 18, 2001. Mr Bhatal, who appeared before the forum today, took his complaint back. The BSNL has already adjusted the extra amount charged as per urban package in the bills issued on May 18.

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Revenue officials plan pen-down strike
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 8
Revenue officials all over the state will go on two-day pen-down strike on November 21 and 22 to press their demands and will further intensify the agitation thereafter, if their demands were no accepted.

This was decided at a meeting of the Punjab Revenue Officers Association held at a local hotel here today under the presidentship of Mr Iqbal Singh Sandhu. The meeting was attended by more than 150 District Revenue Officers (DROs), Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars from all over the state.

Mr Sandhu told mediapersons that the association had already served an ultimatum to the government for implementation of their accepted demands by November 8 and the next phase of agitation was deferred for two weeks in the wake of a positive response from the state government.

He, however, cautioned that if no action was taken by the government in the intervening period, the association would be forced to resort to other measures, which might include indefinite strike, to seek justice for the revenue officials. The final decision about the agitation would be taken at a general body meeting of the association.

The pending demands of the revenue officers, according to Mr Sandhu, included promotion to PCS cadre on the basis of seniority-cum-merit and setting up of a departmental promotion committee for this purpose, fixed quota for appointment of ADCs from amongst DROs, Class I and Class II status to Tehsildars and Naib Tehsildars, respectively, time scale of 4-9-14 years for Tehsildars and provision for holding departmental inquiries at the district headquarters.

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Red faced over filing false complaint
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 8
A man landed himself in trouble today after having been found to have lodged a false complaint against his landlady. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Kaler, ordered the registration of an FIR against him to discourage people from registering false complaints.

Balwant Singh, alias Bittu son of Sadhu Singh, a resident of Shimlapuri had lodged a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner that his landlady Ms Prem Lata was not returning his documents and a receipt of rent he had given her.

The investigations revealed that Balwant Singh had lodged a false complaint against Ms Lata. She later told The Tribune that she had given him the house as he had told her that he was constructing his house and needed accommodation for a few months. “But, later he refused to move out”, she said. Balwant Singh reportedly took about Rs 20,000 from the Prem Lata to vacate the house. After vacating the house, he lodged a complaint which was found to be false.

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Three held for stealing motor
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 8
The local police has arrested Amar Singh, Jagtar Singh and Raj Pal Singh, all residents of Chehalan village on a complaint of their aunt, Mrs Surjit Kaur, here today.

According to reports, the subjects stole the electric motor.

The police produced the suspects in the court of Mr Ravinder Kumar Condal, Judicial Magistrate, who remanded them in police custody for 2 days.

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Schoolteacher robbed
Our Correspondent

Khanna, November 8
About Rs 11,000 were snatched from a schoolteacher by two scooter born youths in Model Town locality, here today. According to information, Ms Paramjit Kaur, was going to her house after school at about 1.00 p.m. A blue coloured scooter stopped near her and one of the miscreants snatched her purse and fled away.

Mr Ranjit Singh, ASI, has been deputed to investigate the case.

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