Wednesday, April 3, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PAU orders probe in fraud case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has ordered a regular inquiry into the Rs 6 lakh fraud detected in the office of the Comptroller of the university a few months ago.

Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said he had appointed a senior official to conduct a probe and submit the report to him. Stating that the university had taken a serious view of the report of preliminary inquiry that had indicted certain persons of the office of the Comptroller, he said the guilty would not be spared.

A fraud of about Rs 6 lakh was detected in the office of the Comptroller recently. The fraud was pointed out by the Audit Department some months ago and a preliminary inquiry report submitted to the Vice-Chancellor had confirmed the fraud.

The university has so far chargesheeted one employee, a cashier in the Comptroller office, but according to the preliminary inquiry, several other employees including some serving and former high-ups, may be involved in the case.

According to the report of the preliminary inquiry by an official of the office of Comptroller, an amount of about Rs 6 lakh has been embezzled by a former cashier. The modus operandi in committing the fraud included pocketing money through fake entries, indulging in temporary embezzlement by keeping university money for personal use for six months and some double entries for one work. One such entry of over Rs 1.95 lakh was made twice in the account books.

The office of the Comptroller of the university receives all cash and cheques in respect of income earned by the university by selling seeds, produce, auction, student fee and that from the outside seed farms. The revenue thus generated is deposited in the bank account of the university through the Comptroller’s office.

In this fraud case, the amount received by the Comptroller’s office was not deposited in the bank by certain employees for months together, although they were supposed to do so within a day of accepting the payment. What the dealing hands kept doing with the money is yet not known. But the PAU definitely lost interest income on the amount for many months.

Sources said the matter came to the light only when the Audit Department started checking the records in 1998. They said the entries were made in such a manner that it was very difficult to figure out the correct amount. Later, the Vice-Chancellor ordered a thorough inquiry a few months ago.

In the preliminary inquiry it has been held that had the successive Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) been careful in their work such a situation would not have arisen.



Stationary’ problems of rail commuters
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
The Northern Railways, Ferozepore Division, has failed to put up any system worth its name to address public grievances for the past many years. Interestingly, most of the passengers in the region, are from Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, but the railway’s divisional office is situated far away at Ferozepore. Complainants have often alleged that it is almost impossible to contact railway officials on phone, and whenever they visit their offices, the former are often found missing.

Interestingly, ‘rules’ say officials in the railways, do not allow junior officials at Ludhiana, Jalandhar or Amritsar railway stations to give any satisfactory answer to the complaints of the passengers or talk to the press.

Hundreds of commuters from the Lohian, Nakodar and Phillaur belt, who daily come to Ludhiana’s factories, have been facing problems of delay in the Lohian-Ludhiana passenger train (5 LL ), for the past many months, due to frequent delay of the Dhanbad-Ferozepore Express. Mr Harnek Singh Bilga, president, Lohian-Ludhiana daily Commuters Association, says, “The express train usually reaches late by 2-3 hours here daily, resulting in delay of the passenger train. Consequently, we are often late in reaching factories, resulting in mental torture and loss of wages. The railways should either ensure timely movement of the train or the time of departure of Dhanbad Express, from Dhanbad, should be delayed by 2-3 hours. Despite our repeated memorandums to the railway department, no action has been taken in this regard.”

Mr Sohan Singh Bhatti, General Secretary of the association, pointed out that they had raised the demand to extend the Lohian-Philaur DMU (1 NLP/ 2NLP) to Ludhiana so that commuters could reach Ludhiana in time. The railways should also run Lohian-Ludhiana DMU (4 LL) at least half -an-hour in advance from its present time, 7.30 am, so that workers reach Ludhiana before the deluxe train, coming from Amritsar. In another resolution, the association has also asked, he said, to re-start the Ludhiana-Jalandhar passenger train (1LNP) via Nakodar at its earlier time 7.40 pm, which was discontinued during the days of terrorism.

In another incidence, four daily passengers, Mr Janak Kumar, Mr V.K. Sharma, Mr Bhushan Kumar and Mr Ashok Kumar were challaned by a railway official, Mr Jaspal Singh, at Phagwara on March 25, for complaining against corruption and misbehaviour of the railway staff with passengers on March 20 in train no 1058 DN (Dadar Express). Though they have lodged their complaints at the Ludhiana railway station, but no action has been taken in this regard so far. Interestingly, railway officials at Ferozepore division expressed their ignorance regarding these complaints. Moreover, railway employees and passengers here having been complaining for the past many months about the lack of proper functioning of the enquiry office at the local railway station, but without any result.

Mr Buta Singh, Deputy Regional Manager, Ferozepore Division, at Ferozepore, when contacted expressed his ignorance about these incidents. He said, “I am not aware about the problems at the enquiry office. The complaints registered at Ludhiana regarding misbehaviour, may take 20-25 days before being addressed by officials here. The problem of daily passengers would be looked into shortly.”



3 PCS officers from a family in a year!
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
While hundreds of PCS aspirants were not lucky enough to make it to the final list, there were few others, who with their clout ‘means’ could manage the selection against all odds. In some interesting cases, more than one member of a family made it to the final list of the PCS candidates. Seven such candidates belonged to only three families. While three members belonged to a single family, two each belonged to two different families.

Of the three members from a single family belonging to Ludhiana, one was selected into the PCS judicial. The two others were taken into the PCS (general) in a single interview. Investigations revealed that the family, which was well-connected at that time, managed these promotions, while others were overlooked. The three are closely related to an influential Akali leader of Ludhiana.

In another case, two members of a single family were again selected at an interview for the PCS (general). Both of them belonged to Mansa and occupy prize posts now. Both of them were freshers. Similarly two daughters of a senior Punjab police officer also made it to the PCS general during the past few years only. And the said officer is learnt to be confident about his son making into the final list of the Deputy Superintendents of Police. The list which was scheduled to come out around this time only is learnt to have already been finalised by the PPSC, before the sensational arrest of its controversial chairman.

However, such families were only exceptions. There were thousands like Ms Jaswinder Kaur of Ludhiana, who qualified the PCS judicial written test, but could not make it to the final list for obvious reasons. Her family was approached by one of the ‘touts’, who claimed proximity to the selection committee of the Punjab Public Service Commission, offering mediation for a “reasonable price”. Ms Jaswinder disclosed that first she was asked to pay Rs 30 lakh. Then the price came down to Rs 15 lakh. After her family expressed its helplessness to pay such a huge amount, she alleged, she was rejected at the interview. “In fact, I was advised not to appear in the interview, as it would be a useless exercise”, she revealed. Similarly, four Excise and Taxation Officers, who were supposed to appear for the interview for promotion into the PCS cadre had an equally bitter experience. Of the 250 ETOs, the government had recommended seven officers for promotion to the PCS. Only four of them showed some interest to appear in the interview, while three others were discouraged at the first instance.

The four were reportedly approached by a Markfed officer before the date of interview, which was scheduled to be held on June 3, 1999 for negotiations. As they refused to settle any deal, the interviews were postponed till to June 21. Again the interviews were postponed as the ETOs refused to fall in line. Ultimately, the interviews were held on June 29 and all the four candidates were rejected, despite most of them possessing outstanding service records, commendation certificates and awards. They have already approached the court.



SHSAD proposes joint front against Cong in MC poll
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra today sprang a surprise as the party extended an open invitation to all the non-Congress parties, including the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal and the BJP, to contest elections together against the Congress. The party also announced that it had decided not to contest these elections on party symbol.

The decision seems to have been prompted by the clean sweep made by the Congress in all the four assembly segments against a divided opposition. The Congress candidates led in most of the MC wards with handsome margins. In case a similar trend is repeated in the MC elections, the Opposition may be totally wiped out. And probably this apprehension seems to have made all the non-Congress parties to reconsider their pronounced positions and come close for survival, lest they be swept out, as in the Assembly elections.

Senior leaders of the party, who met here, said that the main purpose of the decision was to keep the Congress out of power in Ludhiana Municipal Corporation. According to senior party leader and former minister, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Ludhiana MC has always remained with the non-Congress parties. “We want to ensure that it does not go to the Congress kitty”, Mr Grewal said, while explaining the reasons for extending the open invitation to all the non-Congress, parties, including its own rival like SAD (B).

His views were corroborated by two other senior leaders and former legislators, including Mr Hira Singh Gabria and Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa. They pointed out that non-Congress management of the MC had always yielded good results. “This will be a cohesive alliance incorporating the viewpoint of all the political parties and all sections of the society”, they said, while pointing out, Ludhiana was a multicultural city, which needs a similar representation, besides ensuring proper development.

The party leaders said, nothing more should be read beyond this decision as it had been taken only with a view to watching and safeguarding the interest of Ludhiana and its people. They maintained that the parties stand will remain same and the ideological differences with the SAD (B) and its leader Mr Parkash Singh Badal still persisted.

The party has also taken strong exception to the publishing of voter application forms for the coming elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation by the Punjab government in English. In a joint statement senior SHSAD leaders, including Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa and others demanded that the forms be published in Punjabi.

The leaders said that the people will face a lot of difficulty in filling these forms since not many of them know English. They said that when they tried to contact the Additional Deputy Commissioner, they were told that the forms had been published by the government and they could hardly do anything about it.

SHSAD leaders criticised the Congress government for publishing the forms in English and alleged that it betrayed the lack of commitment of the new government towards Punjabi. They demanded that the forms should be made available in Punjabi also.



Akali councillor booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
The police has booked an Akali councillor and three others on the charges of beating and intimidating a former candidate for the MC elections. The incident allegedly occurred over the issue of the revision of voters’ list in Bhagwan Singh Nagar.

The Akali leader, Mr Arjan Singh Cheema, has been booked on the complaint of Mr Charanjit Singh, who alleged that the accused beat him up when he questioned the voters’ rolls under revision by a team of the Municipal Corporation. Three alleged accomplices of the Akali leader, Tehal Singh, Parminder Singh and Paramjit Rana, have also been booked by the police.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Cheema, however, alleged that he had been implicated and the complainant had lodged a false complaint. He counter-alleged that it was Mr Charanjit Singh, who had questioned to MC team and had even injured a resident, who was his relative but not on good terms with him.

He said he had met senior police officers and a case would be registered against the complainant also.




Dr Ishwar Judge Ahluwalia, a renowned economist and wife of Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, was recently in the city to address a gathering of businessmen. Identifying herself with Punjab, she claimed to be a Punjabi woman economist, and said, ‘‘During the past few decades, Punjab has presented a different formula for economic growth — earn and spend lavishly. It would stimulate demand for goods and services and thus lead to economic growth.’’ Perhaps we have acquired this attitude from historical saying, “Khadha pita lahe daa, baki Ahmad Shahe daa,” she said. Regarding economic crisis of the state, she asked to use NRI funds and, of course, charge farmers for electricity.


While those who are fond of drinking can relish their evenings with their favourite drinks and cocktails, those who do not drink need not despair either. There is a recipe for them also. With the entry of umpteen number of multinationals, in more so in the food and beverages sector, they have come out with different varieties of eatables and juices. Mocktail drinks, which are basically juices of different fruits, have flooded the market in abundance. And interestingly to give them a ‘drinking touch’, the juices have been bottled like liquor and the shape of bottles resembles those of liquor of different types. (see picture)

Rescue mission

Some farmers at the Kisan Mela, organised at PAU, were taken for a surprise when they witnessed a stray incident when a former teacher of the university was lifted bodily by the security guards of the PAU who was trying to enter the venue of the mela to hand over a memorandum to the chief guest, Dr S.S. Johl, an economist of international repute and recently appointed as Agriculture Adviser to the Chief Minister. When the terminated teacher, Dr Amarjit Grewal, was being whisked away the farmers present near him started raising a hue and cry and asked the security guards to leave him. They could only understand the whole story when Dr Grewal told them about the memorandum he was trying to hand over to the chief guest.

April Fool Day

No target could have been better than the journalists, especially those covering crime for playing pranks on the April Fool Day. Such journos were taken for a ride by police sources. Taking a cue, a journalist sent a SMS to two journalists stating a drunkard cop had killed three persons at a marriage party. The journos contacted their sources to get more details and the news spread like wild fire. The journalist from whom the news originated had a hearty laugh, when a police source, who had earlier played a prank, called him to tell no that such incident had happened.

Hosts absent

The local journalists covering the PAU were surprised to learn that a regional workshop on media, organised by the Department of Journalism, PAU, was not attended by the faculty members from the Communication Centre of the varsity. While resource persons from all over the country were present, the faculty members of the centre were absent. To add to mystery was the fact that the centre, that releases all the information about the happenings of the day at PAU to the mediapersons, did not send a word to the newspaper offices about the workshop.

Passengers’ woes

The passengers travelling in trains from Ludhiana to Delhi and onwards have to suffer a lot of embarrassment and humiliation at the hands of police guards. They are often frisked and asked to open their luggage in the name of security. The police guards often misbehave with migrant labourers and female passengers. An elderly businessman, who was recently travelling in Shane Punjab, was harassed by two security guards near Karnal. They asked him to come towards a side and open his suitcase. As he was carrying huge cash for business purposes, they started threatening him to implicate in a case of theft or he should pay them some money. The gentleman was almost in tears and initially no one dared to intervene. Then a young woman, who noticed the entire scene, came forward and asked the security guards, ‘‘First show your identity cards and where are your name plates? Do you have any right to harass a common man?’’ Some other passengers also joined her and the security guards were forced to move forward.

For a cause

There are hundreds of industrial and traders’ organisations in the city, known for garlanding politicians and bureaucrats and issuing press notes, but there is one organisation, Ludhiana Management Association ( LMA), which has tried to prove itself an organisation with a difference. It organises monthly seminars and training programmes by calling eminent national experts. Among others, it has brought Dr Manmohan Singh, former Finance Minister, Mr Abid Hussein, Member, Planning Commission, Mr M.S. Gill, former Election Commissioner of India, Mr M.M Panchi, former Chief Justice of India and Dr Ishwar Judge Ahluwalia recently to address industrialists, students and others in the city. Mr V.K. Goyal, general secretary of the association, who plays a significant role in bringing these experts, says, ‘‘The association is trying to bring industrialists, teachers and students on a single platform to build a culture of professionalism and to push the economy of the state on high growth path.’’

Defacing property

A car-bazaar dealer has defaced the electricity poles and pillars in Block B of Randhir Singh Nagar by painting its name, and phone number in garish yellow and red colour. With the onset of summers, the bright yellow and red colours are an eye sore. Defacing public property is a crime punishable by law but one wonders why action has not been taken against such offenders?

No takers for sales

In spite of novel schemes introduced like ‘buy goods worth Rs 1,000 and get goods worth Rs 500 free’, there are not many takers. The primary reason is that it is ‘exam times and mothers have to be by the side of the children and supervise studies. Moreover, when the entire city seems to be on sale now and then, the charm of sales have reduced considerably. Since we have distinct needs for summer and winter seasons, the shopkeepers have to clear the winter stock to make room for summer ward robes so they organise sales to clear off the dead stocks. In spite of consumerism creeping in our lives, the problem of storing surplus clothes also act as deterrent in buying things on sale. Moreover, sometimes the things picked at sale turn out to be defective and not at all cheap when the prices are compared.




Swami Parmanand’s discourses
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
Acharya Mahamandleshwar Swami Parmanand ji will be giving religious discourses at Tagore Bhawan, Tagore Nagar, Ludhiana, from April 3 to April 6 in the morning and the evening.

According to a press release, the discourses have been organised by the Tagore Lok Kalyan Trust, Ludhiana. Swami ji will deliver lectures on Bhakti Yog, Vedanta and other religious issues during his four-day stay.

Swami Parmanand is a venerated religious leader, who has been moving across the country to spread religious message. 



6 cases of theft, burglary reported
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 2
Valuables worth lakhs of rupees were stolen in over half a dozen incidents of theft and burglary, cases regarding which were registered in different police stations of the city in the past 24 hours. The police said it has got leads in some of the cases and hoped it would catch the culprits.

Among the major incidents, two shops of goldsmiths were burgled in Shimla Puri and Basti Jodhewal, a house was burgled in Sarabha Nagar and some unidentified persons snatched a car at gun-point from a person in Focal Point.

Interestingly, the police has been following a special night domination exercise besides the round-the-clock patrolling by PCR (police control room) motor cycles.

Raj Kumar, owner of Shalu Jewellers in Chet Singh Nagar, has complained to the Shimla Puri police that some unknown persons broke into his shop last night and decamped with gold and silver jewellery worth over Rs 1 lakh, besides stealing Rs 20,000. The burglars also damaged the shop by ransacking the place while lifting the ornaments.

Another goldsmith’s shop was burgled in Karamsar Colony of the Basti Jodhewal area, when some unidentified persons broke open the locks and almirah doors to decamp with gold and silver ornaments worth thousands of rupees.

A resident of Ambala town was looted and badly beaten by two unknown persons near Dhandari Kalan last night. The victim, Bhola Ram, a taxi driver, complained to the Focal Point police that the unknown accused persons hired his car from Ambala but when they reached Dhandari Kalan, one of them took out a pistol and told him to hand them the keys of the car. The victim tried to resist but was beaten up. He said he could not do much as the accused even fired in air to intimidate him. The accused ran away with car HR-61-8602. The police has found no clue about the identity of the accused.

In yet another incident in Focal Point, Mr Manoj Kumar of Santa Forging Cycle Industry complained to the police that two persons stole five bags of cycle spare parts worth thousands of rupees from the industry last night. The police has registered a case of theft.

In an interesting case of burglary in a house in Rajguru Nagar, the Sarabha Nagar police today registered a case of burglary of thousands of rupees against unknown persons. The case was, however, registered about a week after the burglary took place. According to the FIR, the burglary took place on March 26 in the house of a bank manager C.L. Mahajan. The burglars took away some statues besides cash and jewellery. However, the police registered the case after a week.



Poverty ‘pushed’ her into crime
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 2
The local Railway Police yesterday arrested a woman, alleged to be an opium courier, with two kg of the contraband during special checking at the railway station here yesterday.

According to information, Mr Som Dutt, who has recently taken over as SHO of the GRP police station, was checking suspicious persons at platform numbers two and three. The woman, who alighted from the Mumbai-Jammu train, was spotted by the cops who found the contraband in her handbag. The woman, who identified herself as Feroza Bai, wife of Babu Lal, a resident of Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, during preliminary investigation, told the police that the stuff did not belong to her and she was just a courier. The real smuggler was also travelling by the same train, she told the police. But he must have slipped away. She also told the police that poverty forced her to become a courier for Rs 1,000 per trip. The woman is being subjected to intensive questioning and the police is hopeful of getting some worthwhile leads.

Husband booked: The Koom Kalan police has booked the husband of a woman, who died of burns at the CMC Hospital a couple of days ago, on the charge of murder, on the basis of her statement recorded by the police at the hospital earlier.

According to information, Manjit Kaur, 23, daughter of a farm hand of Ghungrali village, had been married to Sohan Singh, a factory worker, about four years ago. The couple had had a daughter aged 18 months and Manjit was in her second month of pregnancy when on March 9 last, her in-laws allegedly doused her with kerosene and set her afire. She had been admitted to the CMC Hospital and the villagers had collectively spent Rs 50,000 on her treatment as her poor father could not afford to do so.

School student goes missing: Mr Mohinder Rai, an Army subedar, posted at military camp falling under the division number six police station, lodged a report at the police station last night that his 14-year-old son, who had gone to school near the Bharat Nagar Chowk in the morning along with three of his other school mates to know about the annual exam results, had not returned home. The police all over the city and the surrounding areas has been alerted and an intensive search is on for the missing child.

Tailor attacked: The division number seven police has registered a case of alleged assault with sharp-edged weapons against half-a-dozen unknown persons on the statement of Mohammad Momin, a tailor . The complainant had alleged that on Holi while he was sitting at his brother’s shop in Maya Puri on the Tibba Road, the accused attacked him with swords, as a result of which he lost the fingers of a hand and had to receive 12 stitches. The accused are at large.

Jewellery shops burgled: Shalu Jewellers, a shop dealing in silver and gold ornaments in Chet Singh Nagar on the Gill Road, was burgled on Sunday night, while the owner, Mr Raj Kumar, who lives at the rear of the shop, was away , along with other family members, on a visit to his in-laws . The burglars allegedly broke open the shop’s shutter and decamped with silver and gold ornaments making a clean sweep of the showcase and the stock drawers. The police is investigating.

The same night, Soni Jewellers, located in New Subhash Nagar, was burgled by unknown persons who made a big hole in the side wall of the shop from an adjoining shop which is under construction and without a shutter, and decamped with silver and gold ornaments worth about Rs 10,000 and one lakh respectively. Mr Sumesh Kumar, the shop owner, who lives in Karamsar Colony, has lodged a report with the Basti Jodhewal police which has lifted some finger-prints from the spot and is investigating further.


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