Saturday, June 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Gangrape, torture confirmed: IHRO
Priest told to appear at Akal Takht
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
Confirming the allegations that the adult movies and pornography material was being regularly making way in a religious place on the Ferozepore road where a woman was allegedly gangraped for three days recently, the Sarabha Nagar police today raided an audio-video cassette shop in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar and arrested the owner and seized 35 adult cassettes and 15 porno magazines.

Police sources said the raid was conducted on the information provided by Gurvinder Singh, the only accused arrested in the case so far. The accused told the police that they used to take cassettes from the shopkeeper, Tejinder Singh, regularly. The police has also seized a VCR and a TV set from the shop.

Meanwhile, the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) today claimed that its investigations into the case revealed that the victim, a mother of two kids, was gangraped and tortured for three days by injecting sedatives and showing pornography inside the complex of the local Nanaksar Thath by a group of preachers, led by Satnam Singh, alias Satti.

Holding the management responsible for the incident, the IHRO has asked Baba Bhajan Singh to appear before Akal Takht to seek atonement for the sin and to ensure that such incidents should not be repeated in the future.

The IHRO, chairman, Mr D.S. Gill, said these while releasing its investigation report at a press conference here today. Other members of the investigating team were secretary-general Mohinder Singh Grewal and secretary Ms Inderjit Kaur, who had documented the report after visiting the spot and meeting PSEB employees, Baba Jagir Singh, the victim police officials and many others.

The report appreciated the PSEB employees, the police and the public that helped to free the victim from the clutches of the ‘preachers’ on June 1 and apprehended some of the criminals.

The victim told the IHRO team that she had left home a few days ago and come to her aunt’s house in Gobindgarh after an altercation with her husband, Balwinder Singh, who used to mistreat her. In search of a job, she came here and stayed for a night at the religious place, where she was repeatedly raped by the five accused.

The in charge of the place, Baba Jagir Singh, who is confined to bed due to leg-fracture, denied any prior knowledge of the episode, but condemned the crime, stressing that the culprits should be brought to book.

But, according to IHRO’s findings, Satnam Satti and Tejinder Raja did whatever they liked in the dera. Dr Gill said the IHRO also did not rule out the possibility of such events happening in the past as the alleged gang leader, Satti, was expelled twice by the Baba.



Man dies outside SDM’s court
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
A 40-year-old man, who was arrested on the complaint of his father on June 4, died under mysterious circumstances outside the Sub-Divisional Magistrate’s office in Mini Secretariat here this afternoon.

Tension gripped the secretariat complex following the death of the undertrial. Police personnel, who brought him to the court complex from the Central Jail, rushed him to the Civil Hospital.

The victim, Manjit Singh, a resident of Jamalpur, was arrested under Sections 107, 151 of the CrPC. According to a report written under Section 174 of IPC by the police, the undertrial seemed to be in good condition and walked comfortably to the court room.

However, he suffered a fit, collapsed and died on the spot.

The deceased was the only son of the complainant, Balwant Singh. Due to some domestic problem, the victim’s father had lodged a complaint with the police at which he was arrested. His brother-in-law, Harjit Singh, said Manjit had been very depressed since then.

According to police sources, the man dies of a heart attack. However, the exact cause of the death could not be ascertained as the post-mortem examination could not be conducted due to confusion prevailing among police and jail staff on the proceedings of preparing an inquest report, including constitution of a board of doctors and arranging video filming of the post-mortem.

In such cases, the law says that the post-mortem examination has to be conducted in the presence of an Executive Magistrate. Lack of co-ordination between the Punjab Police and the jail officials also led to an unnecessary delay in the examination. The Jail Superintendent, Mr Gursharan Singh Sidhu, maintained that he could not start the inquest report preparation as the police had not informed him about the undertrials’s death and he learnt it from mediapersons only.

The wife of the victim alleged that her husband and her father-in-law were not on good terms with each other.



Improvement Trust trying to hush up 
girl’s death case?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
Is the local Improvement Trust hushing up the case of alleged lapses in the construction of a park in Rajguru Nagar, where a nine-year-old girl had died after a pillar had fallen on her six months ago?

The answer seems to be in the affirmative if the latest developments in the case are any indication. While the Improvement Trust had recently claimed that an inquiry conducted by it had found that the material used in the construction of the fallen pillar was of good quality, Ludhiana Tribune has reliably learnt that the said inquiry had no locus standi to exonerate any guilty official as the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sandhu, had marked the official inquiry to the Public Works Department (PWD).

Further, Improvement Trust officials were allegedly not co-operating with the inquiry officer of the PWD by not giving any record of the construction of the park. The Inquiry Officer had even written a number of letters in this regard to the district administration. Confirming this Mr Gurnam Singh Azad, Executive Engineer, Provincial, PWD (B&R), went on record saying that the Improvement Trust was hushing up the case.

He further said that while the then DC had asked him to conduct an inquiry into the case in December last, he had not been able to reach any conclusion till date as he was not provided with any details of the construction of the park, including estimates and agreement even after six months.

He said officials of the trust had told him several times that there was no need for this inquiry as the girl’s parents did not want any such probe into the case. “I was surprised how things function in the Improvement Trust. If the parents do not want an inquiry it does not mean that they would let the guilty officials go scot free. Moreover, many children would come to play in other parks also and if the material is not good anything can go wrong anytime,” stated Mr Azad. The design of the park having construction with stones should never have been approved. “It is never safe to construct children’s parks, especially with pillars of stones, which can fall any time”, he maintained.

He further said that he had written to the Deputy Commissioner on January 9, complaining that officials of the Improvement Trust were not providing him with record and was unable to conduct any inquiry. He had also written to the EO at that time. He had also collected samples of the construction material from the site and had sent them for testing at Chandigarh. “Whether the construction material used in the park was good or bad can only be determined if the documents including the measurement books, estimate and agreement with the contractor, are thoroughly studied,” Mr Azad said.

The Executive Officer of the Improvement Trust, Mr P.K. Goyal, when contacted, denied the allegations that the Improvement Trust was not providing the inquiry officer with any record. Then he directed the Tribune to Mr A.K. Kansal, XEN, Improvement Trust, as he was to look into the matter.

When contacted Mr Kansal said that he had handed over whatever documents were available in the office. He further said that the park was constructed 10 years ago by a Amritsar based contractor. “The Superintending Engineer, XEN and SDO during whose tenure the park was constructed have retired. One of them has died. What can I do now if they had not maintained all the record in the office? They would have handed over the record to the office before being relieved from here.” he said adding that the pillar had only collapsed after 10 years of construction and all these years there were no such cases.

Mr Raminder Singh, the newly appointed Administrator of the Improvement Trust, was not available for comments.



2 bodies found in Sidhwan canal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
Mystery shrouds the recovery of two bodies from Sidhwan canal this morning. The police remains clueless to the identity of both bodies. The cause of death in both cases was suspected to be drowning but the post-mortem examination reports were awaited.

The first body of a middle-aged man was found from the canal near Jhammat village falling under Sadar police station. Police sources said the body was found floating and some tyres were found tied around the man’s waist. Sources said the tyres were tied to some rocks, raising donbls that he had been murdered. The body was in a badly decomposed condition.

The second body was recovered from under the Dugri bridge over the same canal. It caused panic among scores of children who used to swim and bathe through out the day near the bridge. The body was highly decomposed and could not be identified. Sources said the body seemed to have reached here from some far-off place.



Ludhiana Congress: a house divided?
Amarjit Thind

Ludhiana, June 7
The image of the Congress party as being united and faction-free, projected in the just-concluded municipal polls or even in its choice of leadership, has received a drubbing here on the eve of the eve of the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections, scheduled for June 9, with party MP Gurcharan Singh Galib crossing swords with party whip, Malkit Singh Birmi. Mr Galib has decided to initiate defamation proceedings against the latter for allegedly sustaining a vilification campaign against him.

According to political observes, this could be a major setback to the party, especially when the congress is going all out to bag the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti polls. The internal bickerings have ensured that many Congress leaders do not participate in active campaigning in the countryside. Many candidates have reportedly made no bones about this fact in their complaints to the political bosses in Chandigarh.

The proposed action against Mr Birmi comes soon after Mr Galib initiating a Rs 1 crore defamation suit against seven former party members for reportedly running a defamation campaign against him in the run-up to the municipal polls. The members had alleged that “ tickets had been sold to the highest bidder by a coterie of leaders, headed by the MP who was the chairman of the selection committee.”

Insiders revealed that the action proceedings against Mr Birmi, MLA from the Ludhiana rural constituency, were launched after the matter was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister. However, no action was taken in this context. Following this, certain leaders called upon the Chief Minister and impressed upon him to do something in this regard since “leaders like Mr Birmi were harming the interests of the party by projecting a negative image of its drive to root out corruption in the state”, they said.

It was alleged by the pro -Galib camp that the MLA had worked at cross purposes and had “ ensured the defeat of many official candidates.” On the other hand, anti - Galib supporters had alleged that “ Mr Birmi was not taken into confidence while finalising the candidates who contested from the wards which fell in his constituency.”



Councillors to take oath on June 10
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 7
The newly elected councillors, representing 70 wards in the city, will take an oath in the General House of the Municipal Corporation on June 10. The Divisional Commissioner of Patiala division, Mr C.S. Srivastav, would administer the oath to the councillors.

The Congress attained a majority in the House by winning 36 seats, while an Independent councillor later joined the party, taking the total strength to 37. In addition, five Congress legislators would lend consolidation to the party.



‘Free power puts PSEB in the red’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
The Punjab State Electricity Board Engineers (PSEB) Association has opposed reforms in the power sector as dictated by the World Bank and implemented by the Indian bureaucracy.

Mr M.S. Bajwa, its president, said the decision of the Centre in 1991 to stop budgetary provisions for power projects had proved to be a retrogressive and counter-productive step. Consequently, a large number of MOUs were signed between the state government and the Centre, but most of the projects were not translated into action. Meanwhile, the demand for power continuously increased by 5 per cent to 10 per cent, but the level of generation was negligible. Punjab had not analysed the problem deeply, much less lend its support to this vital sector. Various sections of consumers, particularly the industrial lobby, had been opposing any hike in tariffs in the state, with the result that the tariff for small power, medium supply and large supply was lowest in comparison to other states. Thus, low tariff for industrial consumers and free supply to farmers were two main factors for putting the PSEB in the red, he added.



PYC activists flay price hike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
Activists of the Punjab Youth Congress flayed the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel, saying that it would increase the burden on the common man, besides giving a fillip to inflation. This would also reflect in the rise in the prices other essential commodities.

The protesters assembled at the local Congress Bhavan and marched through various parts of the city, raising slogans against the Vajpayee Government. They held a rally near the historic Clock Tower where they condemned the government.

The protesters later burnt an effigy of the government.



Burglary attempt at Verka plant
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 7
An attempt was made to break open a locker at the Verka milk plant here last night. The burglars were, however, successful in breaking open a door only and in entering the strong room but failed to break the locks of the main safe containing cash.

Sources said the theft attempt was learnt in the morning only when some sweepers, employed with the milk plant, went to the room to clean it. They raised an alarm. Senior officials of the milk plant and police officials reached the site but the locker was found safe, much to the relief of the plant management.

The police believes it to be the handiwork of some insiders only and has rounded up some labourers in this connection.

Robbery plan foiled: On a tip-off, the Salem Tabri police arrested six persons while they were allegedly planning to execute a bank robbery and booked them under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC. The arrested persons have been identified as Gagandeep Singh, a resident of Miller Ganj, Sat Pal, a resident of Vijay Nagar, Amarjit Singh, Manmohan Singh, residents of mohalla Fatehgarh, Atul Sharma , a resident of Madho Puri, and Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Panjabi Bagh Colony. The accused were arrested from near the grain market near the Jalandhar bypass.

Cases of beating: The division number 7 police has registered a case under Sections 356, 323, 354, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Pritpal Singh, a resident of Sanjay Gandhi Colony, against Dilbagh Rai, Dinesh, Manmohan and their eight associates. The complainant had alleged that the accused forced their way into his house and beat him up. The accused also allegedly threatened him of dire consequences, he added.

The Shimla Puri police , on the complaint of Ms Kiran Bala , a resident of Labour Colony on the GIll Road, has registered a case under Sections 436,511,506 and 120-B of the IPC, against Harbhajan Kaur, Nishan Singh, Raj Kumar Tangri, Balwinder Singh Billa and Pappu, residents of the same colony. The complainant had alleged that the accused tried to rape her and also beat up her husband.

Frauds alleged: The Salem Tabri police has registered a case of fraud under Sections 419,420,467,468,471 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Mr Dharamveer, a resident of Sarabha Nagar, against Avtar Singh, a resident of Jassian village, Baldev Singh, a resident of Purana bazar, Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Madho Puri and Harish Kumar, a resident of Haibowal Kalan. The complainant had alleged that the accused had hatched a plan and sold off his 11 kanal and 16 marla plot to somebody.

The Shimla puri police has registered a case on the statement of Mr Harcharan Singh, a resident of Dashmesh Nagar, under sections 406 and 420 of the IPC, against Ravinder Singh, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Manpreet Singh, a businessman on Dugri Road. The complainant had alleged that he had bought a car from the accused but he was not given the registration documents by the accused who had committed a fraud on him by not giving the required papers.

Case registered: The Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case under Sections 447, 506 and 149 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Dharam Singh , a resident of Kakka village, against Bhag Singh, his son and six others. The complainant had alleged that the accused tried to take possession of his plot by force and had also threatened him.

A new motorcycle, Boxer, (PB-43A-0343) belonging to Mr Baljeet Singh, son of Mr Mukhtiar Singh of Baghaur village, was stolen from the Tehsil Complex on Thursday. A case has been registered.



IMFL seized
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 7
The excise staff of Ludhiana district III has seized 156 bottles of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) during a special drive launched in assistance with the Samrala police. One person, identified as Jatinder Singh, alias Joga, was booked under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act in this connection.


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