Saturday, November 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Tender trouble, MC mends its ways
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 16
Amid reports of massive irregularities in the Engineering Department, particularly in the process of filing tenders for development works in the city, the Municipal Corporation has taken steps for a tighter supervision.

Under instructions from the MC Commissioner, Mr R.L. Kalsia, the Additional Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, has asked officials of the department to ensure that the estimates for development works should be realistic. The tender invitation committee (TIC) will include the Zonal Commissioner concerned and the Deputy Controller Finance and Accounts (DFCA). The TIC will supervise the preparation and opening of tenders, while the DFCA will be responsible for the cost of the works and the availability of funds.

The MC Commissioner has also said that, at the time of the opening of tenders, members of the TIC will put a transparent tape on the rates quoted by contractors. This is supposed to rule out the possibility of anyone tampering with the documents at a later stage.

The MC administration had to issue such an order to check blatant violation of rules in the tendering work. This supports the general impression that things are not well in the Engineering Department of the MC. There has been a spate of complaints about certain MC officials, councillors and contractors being hand in glove with each other and responsible for inflated estimates, allotment of contract to favourites and acceptance of over-rate tenders.

The MC directive has come in the wake of reports that some contractors close to councillors did not allow the other contractors to bid. Some others had submitted over-rate tenders and the tenders received by the MC had not been opened for a couple of days in violation of rules.

The directive notwithstanding, there is information that several councillors of various parties were present in the office of the Superintending Engineer, (B and R) at the time of the opening of tenders. Obviously, they were there to ensure that the tenders submitted by their favourite contractors were cleared.



Arrest of ‘pimp’ exposes sex racket in Ludhiana, adjoining areas
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service.

Ludhiana, November 16
With the arrest of a Mumbai resident by the CIA wing of the Malerkotla police, an alleged pimp involved in the infamous “Samrala sex racket” involving selling of some girls from the region for flesh trade in Mumbai, a well-established prostitution racket in Ludhiana city has come to light.

Ludhiana has remained in news because of the flourishing flesh trade with girls from Delhi, Chandigarh and other places specially sent to the city for small trips. The Ludhiana police had, however, recently claimed about substantially checking the trade with the arrest of key persons of a Delhi-based notorious gang. The latest revelations that came up during the investigation by the Malerkotla police supported by Khanna and local police claim that a number of city industrialists were actually functioning as agents in the racket. Poverty-stricken girls bought from Samrala and other parts of the country, were brought to Ludhiana, where some industrialists arranged “customers” for them.

While the authorities of the three police districts remain tight-lipped about the progress of investigation and the involvement of Ludhiana-based industrialists, reliable sources informed Ludhiana Tribune that the roots of the “woman trafficking gang” were spread far and wide in the district.

The case had first come to light in Samrala when the police arrested a woman of Bagli village near the town, who was allegedly involved in the selling of girls of local villages to Mumbai-based prostitution gangsters. The woman had in her interrogation revealed that the trade was thriving in Ludhiana city but as she was not a key member of the gang, the police missed on details.

Sources revealed that with the arrest of the alleged pimp, the over three-month-old efforts of the Sangrur, Khanna and local police to identify and trace some local members of the nation-wide gang have received a fresh impetus.

While the police has not been able to nab at least five members of the notorious gang all these months especially a rich industrialist, whose name begins with ‘A’, it is filled with fresh hope of finally tracking him down. Both the ‘pimp’ and the woman are in police custody and had even toured the city in a clandestine manner to trace the industrialist in the recent past. However, the industrialist concerned has suddenly vanished.

According to sources, the woman and the “pimp” used to “buy” girls from several parts of the country and had bought two girls from Samrala also. The girls were tricked into the profession and trained in Mumbai. Police sources said the woman booked orders from the industrialist for Ludhiana and used to bring girls in different groups here.

The woman in her statement to the police said she had handed over the girl to the said industrialist who used to take the girls to different “customers”. The woman has said that she does not know anything else. The police hopes that the Mumbai-based man can provide better leads to the police, as according to the woman, some male members of the gang at times visited the customers with the industrialist.

Local police sources, meanwhile, expressed ignorance over the matter.



Robbers kill man in village
Tribune News Service.

Ludhiana, November 16
A gang of robbers struck at a house on the outskirts of Mullanpur village last night and murdered a man by strangulating him. The gang could, however, decamp with two cattle only as there was nothing else to steal in the outhouse of the deceased.

Surjit Singh (60), a farmer, was found dead in the outhouse by his wife this morning when she went there to give him the morning tea. She was shocked to see her husband dead and informed her relatives who, in turn, called the police.

The police said that from the circumstantial evidence, it appeared that some robbers had struck at the outhouse, which was used by Surjit Singh for keeping animals. The farmer must have heard the noise and challenged the intruders who, using his turban, strangulated him.

As it was the first such incident in recent times in the village, it was surrounded by the police as senior police officials, including the SSP, reached the place. A meeting of police officials took place in the Mullanpur police station to take stock of the situation and to take preventive measures.

Five police teams were dispatched to different places, where some animal fairs were on. It was suspected that the robbers would not be able to keep the cattle with them for long and would sell these at some market. However, the accompanying relatives of Surjit Singh, who could recognise the animals, could not find these in market.

Sources said they have not received any clue about any personal enmity in the case as Surjit enjoyed good rapport with the village and was widely respected. His house was in the village but he had constructed an outhouse for his animals.



Dog bites 30 persons on Divali night
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 16
The ear-splitting noise of crackers on Divali night proved too much for a stray dog who went mad and bit about 30 persons, including children, in Ravi Dass Nagar here on Divali night.

The Tajpur police was yet to trace and catch the dog, which reportedly fled towards the woods on the outer-skirts of the city. According to eyewitnesses and injured persons, the dog, a mongrel, appeared to be upset by the noise of loud crackers around him on the Divali night. He went berserk and bit every person coming his way.

While a number of persons got treatment from private clinics and hospitals they could find on that night, at least 8 people got treatment from the Civil Hospital.

The police said the brown-coloured dog seemed to be frightened by the crackers and firearms and was seen trying to hide himself. After lying upset for some time, he suddenly began pacing madly in the street and barking at the persons bursting crackers. Immediately afterwards, he ran towards some persons and bit a number of them.

A police party reached the place and tried to catch the dog which had bit 30 persons by that time. The Divali celebrations in the area had come to a standstill as people were attending to the injured or had locked themselves in.

The police said the injured took anti-rabies injections and some of the seriously bitten ones were taken to the Civil Hospital. As the dog was untraced, the fear of rabies infection was still looming large. However, no one has reported any sickness so far. The residents of the area were all praise for the police personnel who provided immediate help to them.



Hospital phone lying disconnected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 16
While the state Health Department is spending about Rs 2 crore on the construction of a new hospital in the premises of the Civil Hospital here, a telephone connection in the hospital is lying disconnected for the last one-and-a-half years, ironically, for want of just about Rs 12,000. The disconnection is causing immense inconvenience to the medical staff as well as the public.

Ludhiana Tribune talked to the Dr Harvinder Singh, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Civil Hospital, to know the details. He said that the telephone of the hospital (number 665003) had been disconnected by the department due to non-payment of the bill since August 2000. He said: “The telephone bills were paid by the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) earlier. But with the new audit recommendations, the PHSC refused to pay the telephone bill”.

The SMO said that there was confusion over the payment of the telephone bill. Later, it was decided that this bill would be paid by the local Health Department. “But again, the department had no funds to pay this bill. On repeated requests, a special budget was sanctioned by the department”.

Dr Harvinder Singh said that they had written two applications to the General Manager, Telecom, in the month of October and November regarding the restoration of the same telephone. “We have not received any reply from the department so far,” said Dr Harvinder Singh.

Ludhiana Tribune talked to the General Manager, Telecom, Mr S.R.Srivastava, to know the further development. He said that he was unaware of receiving any such application. The Chief Accounts Officer and Commercial Officer of the department said that they were also not aware about any application for the restoration of the telephone at Civil Hospital. Due to a restricted holiday, the details on this matter could not be known.

Meanwhile, Ludhiana Tribune receives a number of calls by the “harassed public” daily. One of the persons said: “We wanted to get some kind of enquiry but this disconnected telephone has really harassed the common people, specially patients”.



Gentle cop ‘destroys police image’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 16
Think of a Punjab policeman and the image formed is of a harsh, rude and abusive person. Belying this perception is a gentle policeman, Balwinder Singh Bhattal, posted at the district police headquarters here.

Balwinder saves time from his busy and hard work schedule to do social service. His feats are numerous, but on top of the list is his contribution in spreading awareness on eye donation in the region. He is working actively for the past several years in collaboration with Mansooran Eye Bank and has convinced over 1,000 persons to pledge their eyes to others after death. He has also arranged for the eye donation of several persons at odd hours as the cornea has to be removed within two hours of a person’s death.

Recipient of a state-police medal, Balwinder also works for the welfare of his colleagues as well. He is fighting a case for getting additional benefits for constables on par with employees of the other departments with similar pay-scales. The police constables are getting lower salaries than other employees.

He played a big role in getting the Akal Takht ask the state government to change ‘topi turbans’ worn by policemen. For this, he had to visit Amritsar several times to study rules of the religion and the police. It was only after months of hard labour that he succeeded.

A resident of Bhanaur village, Balwinder Singh, says that he has an irresistible desire to work for the needy. He does not desire publicity. He was even reluctant to give details of his social work. “I want to work quietly for the uplift of the needy and within my limited resources,” he said.

Balwinder met this correspondent in a local court where he had come to plead a case of 11 villages the residents of which had been giving rent for the telephone connections on urban-area charges. According to rules, they should have been charged rural-area rents. It was after months of legal battle that Balwinder won the case. One of his friends told the correspondent about his work.

“Policeman also has a heart,” says Balwinder. He says that he strives to change the public image of policemen from negative to positive through his works. He has been funding the supply of medicines to a hospital near his village for the past 10 years. He organises free medicine-distribution camps every month in rural areas and is in regular touch with several hospitals for arranging free medical treatment for the poor.



Criminal with terrorist links held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 16
An alleged notorious criminal, having well-established links with terrorists of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir-based outfits, has been arrested. He also functioned as one of the most trusted informers of an Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) and Inspector General of Police (IGP), Punjab. He was also one of the most wanted criminals of the region, and the police of several districts was on his trail.

This is another example of a former terrorist taking to crime after terrorism days. A number of other terrorists had also become contract killers after the end of terrorism days.

Avtar Singh Tarri, a resident of Khudda village near Patiala, has been arrested by the Division No. 2 police on the charge of robbery, along with his accomplice Harjinder Singh. The police has recovered an AK-47, a .315-bore rifle, a mouser, a motor-cycle, some quantity of opium and two stolen tractors from his possession.

While the police was excited over the success, no official was willing to come on record about the arrest. There was some confusion in the local police about which police station had arrested the notorious criminal. Earlier, there was news that a police party had arrested him from Amritsar and got the recovery made from Patiala. Then there were reports that he was arrested by the Focal Point police. Ultimately, the Division No. 2 police was the one which claimed to have actually arrested the accused.

Police sources said the man was wanted in several cases and is being suspected to be the mastermind behind a number of robbery and snatching incidents in different parts of the city, including the latest one near the Salem Tabri police station.

The arrest of the man assumes significance as, despite being a noted criminal and proclaimed offender, Tarri was close to senior police officers in the state. His closeness to an IGP and ADGP, for whom he allegedly worked as an informer, is well-known. Police sources said the accused is suspected to be involved in number of killings and blasts during terrorism days.



From heaven to hell in 20 years
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 16
Revisiting “Heaven on Earth”, as it was twenty years ago, she found that it had become a “Hell on Earth”. A city resident had a horrid experience on her second visit to Srinagar, where she had to be for a friend’s wedding recently. She says that the people there are living on minefields.

She has been reading about the conditions in the valley in newspapers and watching the TV coverage of the state as well. Even the images used to maker her shudder at the condition of the valley where she had spent memorable days just after her marriage. Nevertheless, she decided to revisit the place with her husband, a hosiery trader. Today, she regrets her decision as her dream of a beautiful valley has been shattered.

Karuna, a resident of Kitchlu Nagar here, narrowly escaped death when her car was stopped at Sangam on way to Srinagar, following a mineblast that happened in front of her eyes.

She said, “Our car, in which, I was travelling with my two children and husband, was following a convoy of Army trucks that had to halt abruptly due to the blast. Unnerved, the Army personnel jumped out of the trucks and took positions.”

“Terrorists had placed a mine on the route of the convoy and detonated it with the help of a remote control. However, the trucks were at a distance from the spot when the mine went off. The blast was like an earthquake that shook our car. After taking their positions, the Armymen told us not to move out of our car, warning us that anybody who moved would be shot,” said Karuna.

“I was not sure whether we would make out of the place alive or not, as our driver did not move for two hours. There were sounds of bullets from everywhere. We were horrified and did not have a conversation for two hours. I prayed silently and promised myself that I would never bring my children here again if we lived.”

Karuna said she found it hard to believe that it was the same beautiful place that she had visited 20 years ago on her honeymoon. “Even newspapers and the TV news cannot bring you the picture of the real horror there. On our first visit, we had stayed in a houseboat, but this time, we could not gather the courage to stay there overnight as the lake area was deserted. The people there don’t go out in evenings anymore, as shops are closed after 6 pm. There is a sort of self-imposed curfew there every evening.”

She said the people there were so scared that they has stopped constructing two-storey houses, as terrorists were known to occupy first-floor rooms forcibly. Her friend Nilofer Aslam, who had accompanied her to places in Srinagar, told her that, earlier, Kashmiris thought they were gifted with natural beauty and, now, they felt cursed, thanks to terrorism.

Karuna said films and teleserials in Kashmir were being shot behind closed doors as actors found it unsafe to shoot outdoors.



Overloaded three-wheelers a traffic hazard
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, November 16
In gross violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, overloading has become common practice in this industrial hub for transporting goods on the three-wheelers. One can witness overloaded vehicles, especially in the old city area, endangering others’ life and blocking traffic for hours.

In the old city area where the roads are narrow to transport goods on trucks and other heavy vehicles, three-wheelers are used to supply articles in bulk as a large number of wholesellers have their shops there. Moreover, these shopkeepers like to hire autorickshaws which are ready to transport a large quantity of goods in one go to save transportation expenses.

According to the Motor Vehicles Act, every commercial vehicle has specified a weight limit as per its engine capacity. Moreover, as per the Act, goods carried in the vehicle should not exceed the weight limit passed by the State Transport Authority. In violation of the rule, the violator is punishable under Section 194 of the Motor Vehicles Act and the minimum fine for overloading the commercial vehicle is Rs 2,000.

But autorickshaw owners often violate this rule to carry articles as much as they can. During peak hours these overloaded autorickshaws block traffic for hours due to which commuters have to suffer a lot. Sometimes the traffic is so badly blocked by these autorickshaw that the commuters have to opt for the other long route to reach the destination.

These autorickshaw drivers often load the goods which have less weight and more volume, especially in the case of plastic goods, toys and hosiery items. One can witness the goods hanging outside the vehicle which create a problem for the smooth flow of traffic.

Often when the autorickshaw driver is asked by the traffic cop about hanging goods, he gives a simple reason for that and replies that the goods loaded do not exceed the weight limit and he is not violating any traffic rules. Sometimes these overloaded autorickshaws overturn in the narrow streets of the old city area and block traffic for long periods.

Along with autorickshaws, cycle-rickshaw pullers can also be witnessed overloading goods in the old city area, including Chaura Bazar, Mali Ganj, Wait Ganj, Field Ganj, Hargobinnd Nagar, Subhani Building, Ghas Mandi and Gur Mandi.

When contacted, the Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Mr Arunpal Singh, said that the traffic police often challan the vehicles for overloading. But a large number of vehicles challaned for overloading are heavy commercial vehicles like trucks and trailers, he informed.



Congress decision on seats to BC hailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 16
The Vishvakarma Samaj Party, (VSP) Punjab, has hailed the announcement by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Capt Amarinder Singh, to allot 15 per cent of the party tickets in the coming assembly elections to candidates belonging to the backward classes.

The VSP president, Mr Kulwinder Singh Virdi, said in a statement here today that the electorate from the backward classes always played a decisive role and whichever party earmarked due share of seats for candidates from among the BCs would stand at a position of advantage as compared to other political parties.

Mr Virdi claimed that the BC population in Punjab was around 54 per cent, according to the latest estimates and the Congress would do well to go a step further to nominate its party nominees from backward classes in proportion to their share in population which would ensure a landslide victory for the party.



Hans Raj ‘deserved’ award
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 16
The Punjab Government recently honoured Hans Raj Hans who is the only one who sings Sufi and Kabir’s dohe and kirtan as well as folk music. Infact he is complete singer in himself.

The traditional music both folk and sufi has been languishing in the past two decades primarily because artistes from Punjab had not been recognised for their talent and Punjabiat.

The much-awaited award of “Raj gayak” is the recognition of his true talent. Hans richly deserves this award and such like awards will motivate other singers too.

SPIC MACAY a Society for promotion of Classical Music, Art, Culture Among Youth, appreciates and congratulates the Punjab Government’s step towards recognising and honouring artistes who are exponents of a tradition that is essentially our own.



Municipal Corporation employees assaulted on duty
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 16
A case has been registered on the statement of Mr Gurvinder Singh, driver of the Municipal Corporation, against Harvinder Singh, Mukhwinder Singh and another person for attacking employees of the corporation while on duty. An FIR has been registered in Division No 1 police station and the case is under investigation.

Eve-teasing: The Division No 2 police has registered a case of eve-teasing against a boy from Beant Pura. The girl was teased while she was on her way near Vishkarma Chowk. The case has been registered under Section 294 of the IPC.

Gambling: An sum of Rs 1,115 along with a pack of playing cards was recovered from Harish Kumar, Ram Chand and Gian Chand at Muradpura and a case was registered under Sections 13, 3 and 67 of the Gambling Act. A similar case has been registered against Khairati Lal, Ravish Kumar, Vinod Kumar and Mehar Chand of Daba Road and Rs 980 was seized from them.

Weapons seized: One pistol of .315 bore along with four cartridges has been seized from Harjinder Singh of Amritsar during special checking by the police of Division No 2. A case has been registered under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

Chain-snatcher held:
Gurdeep Kaur, of Bhodon village was arrested for allegedly snatching a gold chain of Bimla Rani while the latter was boarding a bus. The police has registered a case under Section 356 of the IPC and recovered the chain from Gurdeep Kaur.

Watchman dead: Jorakh Rani Dubey, an employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board here who was on duty, died on Thursday night. The incident came to light in the morning. The police got the post-mortem conducted after which the body was handed over to the relatives of the deceased. The cause of the death could not be immediately known.

12 kg poppy husk seized: A police party, arrested Satnam Singh of Churchal while on a routine patrol and found in his possession 12 kg of poppy husk. A case has been registered.

Held for gambling: The Khanna police has arrested two persons — Amrit Lal, alias Lali, and Jaiver Kumar, alias Babbi — under the Gambling Act. An amount of Rs 768 was recovered from them.


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