Saturday, June 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Raising cane to kill able
Encroaching cops hurt protesting women; DC ignores
Tribune News Service

Protesting women workers
Protesting women workers surround the car of the Deputy Commissioner.— Photo Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, May 31
After forcibly occupying the office of the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), the local police cane charged thousands of women workers and the staff of the CDPO during a protest against this illegal occupation outside Mini Secretariat here today.

A number of women were injured in the charge, according to protesters. The police took this action when about 2,000 Anganwadi workers and the CDPO staff surrounded the car of the Deputy Commissioner outside his office after he refused to meet the protesters to accept a memorandum. The DC was, however, not in the car and only his driver was inside.

It was a peaceful march outside Mini Secretariat, restricted only to slogans against the police, till some members of the DC’s staff invited representatives of the agitators to meet the DC and give him a memorandum. A delegation of about five persons reached the DC’s office and waited for him outside, as he was in a meeting. The DC, however, left the office without meeting them. At this, protesters, who were waiting outside Mini Secretariat, gathered outside the DC’s office, surrounded his car and tried to block the traffic outside Mini Secretariat, at which, the police resorted to the cane charge.

Ms Subhash Kumari, general secretary of the Anganwadi Mulajam Union, told reporters after the charge that the behaviour of the district administration and the police had been shocking. She said the police had illegally occupied the office of the CDPO and tried to silence the protest. She also said the DC did not want to redress their grievances and most policemen who had cane charged women were men. Some of the workers have sustained grave wounds in the attack.

The DC, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, was not available for comments and his attendant said the DC was busy as the Commissioner had come for inspection. After the charge, angry protesters raised slogans against the DC and the Punjab police. Ms Santosh, block president of the union, said the Shimla Puri police station staff had forcibly occupied a part of the CDPO building near Gill canal bridge some 15 days ago. The CDPO staff, now, had to work in insufferable conditions due to it.

She said the CDPO staff had approached the DC and the Senior Superintendent of Police some days ago, urging them get the occupation terminated. However, even more than 10 days after that, no action has been taken, so far.

She said the Shimla Puri police staff had established a full-fledged police station in the building, complete with rooms for the SHO and the munshi, besides even an interrogation office. The SHO has even started functioning from there.

She said the conditions in the building were particularly insufferable for the women staff of the CDPO. The office is on the ground floor of the building and the police has occupied the top floor. “The policemen use foul language even in normal conversation and whenever some criminal is interrogated, the cries are ear-piercing. There is always a commotion there,” said an Anganwadi worker.



Controversial Form 56-C withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
The Sales Tax Department of Punjab Government has withdrawn the controversial Form 56 C and asked all its offices in the state not to press for it. This was disclosed here today by the general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Mr Mohinder Aggarwal. He said the decision has come as a great relief to the traders.

Mr Aggarwal said yesterday, a delegation of the Beopar Mandal, led by its state president, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, had met the sales tax commissioner at Chandigarh. The delegation explained to the commissioner the difficulty and harassment that may be caused to the traders by the introduction of this form. The commissioner, according to Mr Aggarwal, issued written directions to all Sales Tax offices in the state, making it clear that Form 56 C had been withdrawn.

Mr Aggarwal said the commissioner, while appreciating the concern of the traders, told them in case they were harassed by any officials of the ST department on any count, the matter should be immediately brought to his notice so that action is taken against such an official.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Mandal was held here today under the chairmanship of its state general secretary, Mr Sunil Mehra, members passed a unanimous resolution thanking the government for withdrawing the form.



Dollar dreams turn sour in Malaysia
Our Correspondent

Khanna, May 31
Chasing dollar dreams led a man of Harion Kalan village near here to brave inhuman conditions in Malaysia for two-years-and-a-half after he was sent there by a travel agent on the promise of a job. The man, Kesar Singh, returned on May 17 and recalled how in Malaysia he was barely able to save money for air ticket to India.

Kesar Singh, a wrestler, told reporters gathered in his house that he owned a dairy farm. He came in contact with the travel agent, Parkash Singh of Khanna, through a man of his village, Avtar Singh. The travel agent said, in Malaysia, he would get a job with a salary of Rs 20,000 per month plus overtime charges. The agent demanded Rs 1.7 lakh for his immigration. Kesar gave him Rs 1.25 lakh in cash and sold his house for the rest of the payment.

On December 5, 1999, the travel agent left him at the New Delhi airport with another boy, Satnam Singh, who lived in Kalaundi village. He told them that his men would receive them at Sufmazaya Airport. When they landed there, an Indian named Dr I.M. Arsley was waiting for them and he took them in a car to a small room where seven other persons, including three Nepalis, were already staying.

He told each man to pay him 500 dollars to get a job. He also took away their passports and return tickets, whereupon, he returned after three days to take them to a forest near Booki Jaleel city, where two persons had already been staying for the past 15 days. They lived in a small room with tin roof in that deserted area where there was no food, clean water or electricity. They were forced to drink water from toilets, guraded by a man of an Indian race.

After two days, 10 more men were brought there and 5 kg wheat flour and a pan was given to them to cook meal. Then, they were forced to labour in a nearby golf club. They got 50 ringgits for 20 days of work and Dr Arsley did not turn up there. Kesar Singh, somehow, managed to reach a nearby residential area, where he met a watchman from Punjab, Kulwant Singh of Bhogpur. Kulwant said about 20 boys had been killed where Kesar and the other illegal immigrants had been kept.

Kesar returned there and planned to escape. Next day, Kulwant Singh came there with five other persons and Dr Arsley also reached there in car with his son. Kulwant and his friends caught Dr Arsley and made him return everyone’s tickets and passports. Kulwant went to the Immigration Department to get the passports checked, where officials said all these persons had been overstaying in that country.

A 3,000 ringgits fine was recommended, but, as Kesar didn’t have a penny then, he laboured in a factory illegally at 25 ringgits for 12 hours of work and slept in the forest. He worked in 20 factories and a petrol station. It had been two years since he had last talked to his wife on telephone. The police had caught him about 20 times and released him everytime after he had greased their palms. At times, the police also used to beat him up. It had beaten to death a boy of New Delhi, Jaswinder Singh.

He, somehow, managed to save about 1,000 ringgits for a duplicate passport and ticket to India. With only three ringgits in pocket, he made it back to India. 


4 attack shop owner’s son, employee
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
Four youths attacked two persons in a shop in the local Kochar Market here injuring one person this morning. The victim identified as Gurcharan Singh sustained injuries and was admitted to the Civil Hospital.

According to the eyewitnesses, the trouble started when four persons entered the shop of Gagandeep Electronics in Kochar Market and asked for a helmet from Gagandeep Singh and Gurcharan Singh, a son of the owner and an assistant, respectively. The two, however, refused to oblige the youths who left the shop after abusing them.

The youths then returned after 10 minutes and attacked both the boys and broke the electronic goods in the shop. Gurcharan Singh sustained injuries after the attack.

The police was investigating and no arrest had been made so far. Mr Jaskaran Singh, owner of Gagan Electronics said that he had caught hold of one of the accused and had handed him over to the police in the morning itself. He alleged that the police had allowed the accused to go and did not register any case. Mr Jaskaran Singh said that he had identified all attackers as they were working as florists in the market and were known for creating trouble in the area every other day.



Poisonous oil kills one; 3 in hospital
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, May 31
After consumption of a gravy prepared in ‘poisonous’ mustard oil three members of a Dalit family fell sick while the head of the family died on way to a private hospital here.

According to sources, Mr Kulwant Singh, a resident of Kalakh village near here, had brought some mustard oil from his landlord’s fields. His wife had prepared gravy for the dinner, which Kulwant asked her to fry in the oil he had brought. Whole family had dinner with the gravy except the youngest son.

Immediately after eating the food the family members started vomiting Later it was found that the container in which Kulwant had brought oil, had contained an insecticide earlier. As the head of the family had taken more quantity of the gravy, he died on the way to hospital. Mrs Pritam Kaur, wife of the deceased and Kulwinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh (sons), have been admitted to a private hospital here. The deceased had been cremated. Other members of the family were still at hospital.



Dairy owners stealing electricity
Cause Rs 7 lakh loss to PSEB through kundi connections
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 31
While the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) claims to have launched a drive against power theft, majority of dairy owners functioning from the large dairy complex in Haibowal here continue to steal power causing a loss of a whopping Rs 7 lakh per month to the PSEB.

Power theft through kundi connections seems to be a way of life for most of the dairy owners, numbering over a 1,000, living in three blocks of the area. More than a 100 FIRs have been registered against accused persons on the complaints of the PSEB.

Random checking to regular and consistent raids to special drives and even slamming of massive fines have not made the PSEB successful in controlling the crime.

In fact, the dairy owners are on the top of the PSEB’s hit list of power thieves and compete strongly with the police and industrialists in the city to be notorious for the highest amount of loss to the PSEB through power theft.

Investigations by a Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the dairy owners had reportedly been enjoying patronage of politicians or some other influential persons all these years and any ‘sincere’ effort by the PSEB officials to check the theft was blocked by these persons. A stringent action by the PSEB had also been found wanting.

Visits to the Blocks A, B and C of the Dairy Farm during the early morning and afternoon revealed how easy and smooth it was for the diary owners to steal power. They required only a set of wires. One end was pealed and the copper wire was formed into the shape of a hook. They then attached it to the main power supply line and the power was accessed. Obviously, at no cost.

What is baffling was that the kundi connections, were quite visible to anyone from the streets and could be easily checked. But this was not the case.

PSEB officials were willing to talk on the condition of anonymity only. They said the conditions had improved to some extent in the past six months. Now the loss had come down to 50 per cent of power transmitted in the area. Earlier, it was over 70 per cent. They, however, admitted that this was not something to boast about.

The area got power supply of about Rs 14 lakh per month out of which 50 per cent went into the power theft category. The officials said they had done everything but political interference and police laxity coupled with connivance of some PSEB employees was allowing the illegal activity to thrive.

The Ludhiana Tribune had got a list of 51 ‘chronic’ defaulters, identified by the PSEB, who were habitual of indulging in power thefts. The list included rich and well-to-do persons, who lived in palatial houses, roamed in latest cars but indulged in power theft. The list also mentioned the fine imposed on such defaulters. Fine amount against some of the A-grade defaulters was in fact piling up for the last over an year and had crossed Rs 30,000 mark.

‘‘Kharcha barra penda hai ji’’ (The cost is too much) was the common reply of the residents of the area when asked about the high incidence of power theft. They said that the power bill was too much and they wanted some support from the government to run their business. 



Begging syndicates thriving in city
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, May 31
Revelations in the past on a number of occasions by Ludhiana Tribune notwithstanding, begging syndicates which abduct children and push them into begging, continue to thrive in this expanding city which is known for its riches and the resultant alms.

The existence of these syndicates has again come to light with the abduction of a 12 -year-old boy from Basant Nagar falling under the Shimla Puri police station on May 23 and his providential return a couple of days ago under dramatic circumstances.

According to information, little Gurpreet Singh alias Kala, a 7th standard student, was playing outside his house with other kids of the area when he was lured away by one Dara Singh, a resident of Dhillon Nagar. Later, with the help of two other accomplices, a man and a woman, the boy was administered some sedatives and taken to Hardwar. Another prospective Oliver Twist for the syndicate which has spread its tentacles all over the country. Call it destiny, the boy’s presence of mind or whatsoever , on finding himself among strangers and coming to know that he would be pushed into begging after amputating one of his limbs, the boy somehow managed to run away from the syndicate members and reach a nearby PCO. The PCO owner telephoned the boy’s parents at Ludhiana and for the sake of the child’s safety handed him over to the management of a temple there.

Dara and his male accomplice, who had returned to the city after handing over the boy to their Hardwar-based cronies, have been arrested by the police and they are being subjected to intensive interrogation to find out the links of the long chain that constitutes various begging syndicates or parts thereof.

Investigations reveal that these abominable syndicates work both ways, kidnapping children

from the city and taking them to far-off cities known and kidnapping children from far-off cities and bringing them to the city.

Only a few months ago, a man from Agra who had come to the city in connection with some business had spotted his 14-year-old nephew who had been abducted some years ago from there. It was a reunion that again exposed the existence of begging syndicates in the city. The police of division number three had taken into custody a couple of persons after revelations made by the child beggar but nothing was heard from the police after that about whether they had succeeded in busting any syndicate or not.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune reveal that members of these begging syndicate specialising in converting abducted children into Oliver Twists operate from the local railway station where they roam about freely in the garb of babas and sadhus. Following exposure by the newspaper some time ago, the police had cracked down upon these elements and for some time everything seemed to be under control. But now things are back to square one. These shady characters, who had left the railway station and taken shelter near the Laxmi Cinema and on the Lakkar Bridge have once again taken control of their lost ‘home’. These days ,one can again see these shady characters taking bath at the hose pipes between the tracks, whiling way their time in gossip and smoking bhang chillums and sleeping off their intoxication on the new bridge connecting platform number one with platform numbers six and seven, which provide them ample space because few trains leave and arrive on the same.

The syndicate members also operate from the Lakkar Bridge and some famous temples of the city such as the Durga Mata Temple on the Club Road, Dandi Swami Temple in the Civil Lines and the Mata Rani Temple near the Ghanta Ghar.

In the recent past, the city police has launched a number of campaigns against eve-teasers, noise-makers, satta operators, drug-peddlers and those who impede traffic by parking their vehicles in the middle of the road.

Maybe it is time to launch a campaign against the menace of begging in order to liberate many an Oliver Twist from the clutches of these odious begging syndicates as well.



Bill without mobile connection?
Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, May 31
Tall claims of setting high standards of efficient and reliable services in the telecom sector by Bharti Telecom Limited (Air Tel) have been belied as a local resident was billed for services he did not avail himself of.

The subscriber, Dr J.P. Bhardwaj, a resident of Shimlapuri, was surprised to receive a bill for Rs 1,013.04 by the company on April 20, 2002, even though he had applied for a refund of the booking amount three-and-a-half months ago.

He told this correspondent that he had applied for a new mobile connection from the company through its authorised dealer, M/s Nucleus, Ghumar Mandi, Ludhiana, on February 2, 2002 and had deposited Rs 1,500 vide receipt no. 25. He said on February 18, 2002, he decided not to avail himself of the services of the company and applied for a refund. A copy of the application was duly received by an executive of the dealer the same day. But despite repeated queries and request by him there was no response, he added.

Mr Bhardwaj alleged that there was gross negligence on the part of the company for issuing wrong bill. Moreover it was an unfair trade practice to harass an applicant for refunding Rs 1,500 for about three-and-a-half months. He said that now he wanted his money with interest as he had suffered inconvenience and in case of non-payment, he would move the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum for safeguarding his rights as a consumer.

When this correspondent contacted the franchise dealer of the company, an executive, on condition of anonymity disclosed that Dr J.P. Bhardwaj had applied for a new mobile connection on the February 2, 2002 and subsequently applied for refund of the deposit. He said the bill of Rs 1,013.04 had been issued to the consumer on April 20, 2002 for using the mobile connection No. 9815145124. He admitted that Mr Bhardwaj had never been issued the said connection and there was no question of using the same. Interestingly, however, the bill issued to this ‘deemed subscriber’, not only included rental of Rs 932.14 but usage charges of Rs 352.80 also.

The executive in the franchise dealer’s office further said that it was a computerised bill which could have been wrongly issued. He said that since the matter had been brought to their notice, it would be resolved soon. When asked as to why necessary action had not been taken in April, 2002 when the wrong bill was issued and when the matter had been brought to their notice by the aggrieved person, the executive had no reply. 



Residents protest against cable operators
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
Residents of Dugri Urban Estate, staged a dharna on the premises of the District and Session Court here today to protest against exorbitant charges of cable TV operators for subscription.

A large number of residents gathered on the court premises to know about the civil suit filed for mandatory injunction against Akash Cable operating in Dugri Urban Estate, in the court of Civil Judge (Junior Division) Ms Anita Narwal for fixing the monthly subscription charges to Rs 100 and restoring the disconnected cable connections in the area.

While talking to Ludhiana Tribune, a plaintiff, Mr Bhushan Dhawan, disclosed that a few months ago the cable operator was charging Rs 100 for monthly subscription, but after some time, he started demanding more money every month. He further stated that when he demanded Rs 200 for monthly subscription and some residents of the area protested, he discontinued their connection.

Mr Dhawan disclosed that about two weeks ago, workers of cable operators in the area, who had allegedly established monopoly, visited some houses and demanded more money for subscription. When residents tried to protest, they allegedly misbehaved with them, he further disclosed.

Moreover after this incident, a case had also been registered against one of the cable operators, under Sections 294, 506 and 511 (F.I.R No. 177) on May 16, 2002 at the Model Town police station.

Mr Dhawan stated that the subscription rate had been increased to Rs 200. Now, a notice strip could be spotted while viewing the TV in the area highlighting the monthly subscription rate as Rs 250, he added.

“The cable operator at the time of installation of the cable connection, charges Rs 500 as refundable security, but does not give any receipt of that and subsequently does not refund the amount at the time of disconnection,” he further added.

Mr Dhawan pointed out, “Other cable operators in the area are charging Rs 100 only as monthly subscription fee, Why do Akash Cable, D.C. Cable and K.K Cable charge residents of the area exorbitantly?”

The municipal councillor of the area, (Ward no. 40) Mr Devinder Singh Bittu and former municipal councillor of the area, Ms Harpreet Kaur were also present at the time of staging of the dharna and condemned this act of cable operators.

An executive of Parkash Cable, however, remarked, “They are charging according to the rate fixed by Win Cable, from whom we get signals. Moreover, the notice strip running on the TV screen asking for Rs 250 for a connection every month, is run by Win Cable.”

The Managing Director of Win Cable, Mr J.S. Arora said, “other cable operators provide a cable signal at the rate of Rs 136.50 for each connection while to Win Cable, it costs around Rs 167 per connection.” He said, “We are already giving subsidy to the cable operators. Also the strip of new rate of Rs 250 for monthly subscriptions is being run by us.”

He said, “In some areas of the city, some cable operators are charging Rs 100, because the number of cable connections are more and as the number of cable connection increases, the cost per connection decreases.” He said, “Since we have fewer cable connections, we have to charge accordingly.”



Cash, revolver stolen from car
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 31
A bag containing a licensed and loaded revolver and Rs 10,000 were allegedly stolen from a car by some unknown person(s) in the Safaida chowk area falling under the Model Town police station, last evening.

According to Mr Rajvir Singh, a resident of Muktsar, he had come to the city and had parked his car for a while but when he returned, the bag containing his .32 bore revolver, with five cartridges in it and the money, was missing from the car. The police has registered a case.

Two suicides reported: Two cases of suicides have been reported from the area falling under the Basti Jodhewal police station.

Pitambar Dass (21), a resident of Karamsar Colony, reportedly consumed some poisonous substance yesterday in order to ‘put an end to his life’ as he was unemployed.

Satnam Singh, 35, of Sasrali village, also committed suicide by consuming some ‘poison’ though any reason could not be attributed to the extreme step. The police has handed over the bodies to the relatives after autopsies and sent the viscera for analysis.

Two die in mishaps: Ramesh Kumar, a resident of New Sabzi Mandi, succumbed to his injuries at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital soon after being hit in a head-on collision with another scooter on Wednesday night. The other victim of the accident, Raju, a resident of the Bharat Nagar chowk area, is still undergoing treatment.

Mr Dalbir Singh, a resident of Chandigarh, was hit by an unknown vehicle when he was standing along a road yesterday and died on the spot. The police has sent the body for an autopsy.

1 held on rape charge: Acting on the complaint lodged by the mother of a girl against a Sangrur-based truck driver that he had abducted her 21-year-old daughter and kept her in confinement for some time till the girl managed to escape and return home, the Ghumar Mandi police yesterday arrested Sardul Singh, a married youth aged 25, and booked him on the charge of kidnapping and raping. Sardul Singh was now threatening her on telephone that if she did not send her daughter to him again, he would finish off the whole family, she added.

Man drowns: Ram Vilas (50), a migrant worker from UP, allegedly died of drowning while he was cleaning a water-tank in a factory in Phase-VIII of the Focal Point area yesterday. The deceased had entered the tank to clean it but was found floating dead after some time by his colleagues.

Attack alleged: The Sadar police has registered a case under sections 341,323,324,506 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Nirmal, a resident of Harnam Pura, against Chhota Singh and Bikkar Singh, sons of Jeet Singh, Charan, wife of Bikkar Singh and Pammi, wife of Chhota Singh. The complainant had alleged that due to some old enmity, the accused attacked the complainant’s daughter and injured him.

Opium seized: The Focal Point police has arrested Jagdev Singh, a resident of Tajpur village, and seized 450 gm of opium from his possession. The accused has been booked under Sections 18,61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Eve-teaser held: The Civil Lines police arrested Kishan Dev Sharma from near the Guru Nanak stadium when he was indulging in teasing the girls passing by on Wednesday. He has been booked under Section 160 of the IPC.

Harassment alleged: The Sarabha Nagar police has registered a case of harassment for more dowry under Sections 406,498-A,420 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Nachhattar Singh, a resident of Barewal Awana, against Harjinder Singh alias Surjit Singh, resident of Matwani village in Moga district, Chhinder Kaur, Prassan Kaur, Kamaljit Kaur alias Bobby, residents of Mansipura village. The complainant had alleged that the accused subjected his daughter to mental and physical torture and demanded more dowry. No arrest has been made so far.


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