Friday, June 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Demolition campaign vindictive: residents
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 20
A demolition drive was carried out by the PUDA authorities in Dugri Urban Estate locality here today in which the ‘unauthorised’ construction of gates and encroachment on public streets by residents of HIG flats were razed to ground, purportedly on the basis of orders passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

However, the affected residents have termed the drive as selective while charging PUDA officials with discrimination against the residents of duplex flats and deliberately overlooking the blatant encroachments and violations by owners of the ground floor flats in the locality.

In fact, groups of residents, owning flats on ground floor and first floor have been engaged in a protracted legal battle over right to stair hall in each unit and a second entry for ground floor residents through stair hall. While deciding a writ petition, a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice R.L. Anand and Mr Justice Amar Dutt had opined that the issue of right to the stair hall should be adjudicated in the civil court of competent jurisdiction.

Further, the court had directed that till the rights of the parties were adjudicated finally, the allottees shall not create any obstruction or hindrance before the stair hall up to the road, passing in front of these flats. The High Court had also issued instructions to remove illegal encroachments against the approved plan of the complex, by residents or others, within one month.

The residents alleged that the PUDA authorities had acted at the behest of certain persons, who owned flats on ground floor in the complex. “While the outer boundary walls towards main roads and collapsible gates, leading to the stair hall of the duplex flats (on first and second floor) were indiscriminately demolished, not a single of the numerous iron gates, put up by flat owners of flats on ground floors, in blatant violation of site plan of the complex, was touched by the PUDA demolition team,” rued Mr J.S. Randhawa, one of owners of a duplex flat.

While senior PUDA officials were not available for comments, the residents observed that the administration had taken advantage of ambiguity in the High Court orders and had acted in a vindictive manner against the owners of duplex flats, who were merely fighting for their legitimate right of independent entry to their respective flats, as had been provided in the site plan and explicitly advertised as ‘salient features’ of the complex.



Resentment over high toll tax 
Our Correspondent

A hoarding set up by the National Highway Authority of India diplaying the toll
A hoarding set up by the National Highway Authority of India diplaying the toll to be collected from commuters using the highway from Doraha. A Tribune photograph

Doraha, June 20
The stage is set for a confrontation between the people and the private company entrusted with the task of collecting toll-tax at the highway here. Various traders’ and social associations have joined hands to oppose the exorbitant toll to be collected from the night intervening June 23 / 24.

The notification for the same has already been advertised in leading newspapers and preparations are going on at warfooting. Special training is being imparted to personnel manning the toll plazas. According the schedule released, the toll collection shall be at the following points : at km 132 (from Panipat (km 96) to Ambala (km 206) = length 110 km ), at km 213 (from Ambala (km 206) to Khanna (km 272) = length 66 km) and at km 296 (for Khanna (km 272 to Jalandhar (km 372) = length 100 km).

The toll tax for vehicles like car, jeep, van, light commercial vehicle, truck/bus and heavy construction machinery from 96 to 206 km shall be Rs 50, 90, 175 and 375, respectively. Further the rate for the same vehicles shall be Rs 30, 55, 105, 225, respectively, from km 206 to km 272. The rate for these vehicles from km 272 to km 372 shall be Rs 15, 80, 160 and 340, respectively. These rates, applicable for one-way journey, shall be in force till March 31, 2003.

Doraha falls under the third category of rates i.e. Rs 45 for car, jeep, van, Rs 80 for light commercial vehicles Rs 160 for truck/bus and Rs 340 for heavy construction machinery and earth moving equipment.

According to Mr R. K. Gupta, Manager, NHAI, “The toll tax would be charged at three places i.e. Karnal, Shambhu and Doraha, from Panipat to Jalandhar, the main purpose of which is to improve the quality of roads and to check unauthorised cuts.” He also added that regular patrolling of the G T Road shall be done in order to provide help to accident victims, removing dead animals and involved accident vehicles from the road and also provide mechanics to meet vehicles facing some sort of defect on the road.

But various social and welfare organisations and associations are not at all satisfied with these ‘meagre facilities’ being provided in lieu of such ‘excessive prices’. They call it as a highly “ undemocratic” move for the common man.

Mr Tarlok Singh Jaggi, former president Kariyana Association, Mr Daljit Singh Pappu president, Kariyana Association, Mr Pritam Singh Jaggi, chairman, Kariyana Association; Mr Rasik Bihari, secretary, Kariyana Association, Mr Raj Kumar Tiwari, president, Cloth Merchants Association, Mr S P Verma, president, Arhtiya Association, Mr Keshwa Nand, president, Electronics Union; Mr Suresh Sharma, secretary, Maniari Association; Mr Harbhajan Singh, president, Hardware Association; Mr Avtar Singh, Truck Union, Sahnewal, Mr Maghar Singh, Tempo Union, Sahnewal; Mr Inderjit Singh Kala, president, Dashmesh Charitable Dispensary and Hospital; Mr Krishan Lal Gupta, Mr Bant Singh Daburjee, former chairman, Budhewal Sugar Mills; and the residents of the area had strongly condemned the exorbitant rates and have demanded relaxation in the same.

According to Mr Jagjiwan Pal Singh Gill, an Akali leader,” We have written a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard and demanded relaxation for the local residents.” Various other groups too have appealed to the government to make clear cut demarcation between the local dwellers who have to commute serveral times daily from Khanna to Sahnewal, Ludhiana or from Ludhiana, Sahnewal to Doraha, Khanna and others using the road.

Mr Maghar Singh, president, Tempo Union, says “it is highly illegal and an open loot by the government”. “We would be destroyed and shall have to face serious financial crisis in such a situation”, said Mr Avtar Singh, president, Truck Union.

At present the situation is seemingly assuming serious proportions with various unions having joined hands to face the situation collectively. They have, however, said they would have talks with the high officials and if need be move the court and in case of not getting a stay, would hold dharnas, traffic jams, strikes would be observed.



Suspect alleges police torture
Goes into hiding, files petition
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
Close on the heels of arrest of a Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist from the Raikhi chowk, here, the case of recovery of a telephone number of a city resident from the pocket of another ‘terrorist’ gunned down by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir recently, has rocked the city.

But the case is shrouded in mystery as the police has not been able to make much headway beyond identifying the man, who owns the number.

The case is becoming murkier as the police is on the hunt for the man after failing to derive anything out of his first interrogation a couple of weeks ago. However, the suspect, when contacted, said he was innocent and allegedly harassed by policemen to get sanitary work done free of cost.

The suspect, identified as Vijay Kumar, filed a petition in the court of the Duty Magistrate, Mr Sanjay Agnihotri, here today. In the petition he has given details about his torture and harassment at the hands of the police. The Magistrate has directed the Haibowal police to give details of the case till Monday. The man has also requested the court that he is willing to join any investigation.

The man is an owner of a sanitary shop in Haibowal. He originally belongs to Jammu. In 1978 he married to a Hindu girl and settled here. He has two daughters. His family, mainly brothers, is settled in Jammu and Kashmir.

Senior police officials admitted that even though the police had questioned and interrogated him several times, they had not been able to find any clinching evidence suggesting his involvement in any terrorist activities.

The officials said the recovery of the telephone number from the ‘terrorist’ was a big lead, but it still remained a mystery. The DIG, Ludhiana range, Mr Rohit Choudhry, said the suspect was not able to explain how his phone number was found with the ‘terrorist’.

On the other hand, Vijay Kumar has stated in the petition that he was tortured, illegally confined and harassed by the police. According to information, the man was picked up by the Haibowal police and questioned him in the police station and then in the CIA office. Senior police officials of the district and the state were well aware of the case and have done their verification.

Narrating his tale of woes to Ludhiana Tribune, Vijay Kumar said he had left Jammu due to some family dispute over property and hidden his identity as his life was in danger. He said he had been in Ludhiana for the past 22 years and had not been found guilty of any illegal activity by the police.

He said he was unable to understand how his phone number was found in the pocket of the ‘terrorist’. He even accused the police of cooking up a story to unnecessarily harass him. “I was given electric shocks, besides subjected to third-degree torture.

I was released after three days of interrogation, which did not yield anything. I was not able to walk for several days due to the interrogation. Till today, the policemen are making rounds of my house and shop. I have been forced to live in hiding,” he alleged.



Youth stabs girlfriend, commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
In a fit of rage, a youth stabbed his girlfriend and her two sisters before allegedly committing suicide by consuming a poisonous substance late last night.

According to police sources, 25-year-old Raj Kumar reached his house in an allegedly inebriated state and tried to talk to his girlfriend, living close by, in Amarpura. Seeing his condition, the girl refused to talk to him following which he returned to his house.

Eyewitnesses said they heard a commotion at around 2.30 pm. The girls who were sleeping in their courtyard bore deep stab wounds and were taken to the hospital, where their condition was stated to be serious.

Relatives said the deceased was allegedly having an affair with the girl. He wanted to talk to the girl but was spurned by her since he was drunk. He came out of his house again at around 2.30 pm and walked into the courtyard where the girls were sleeping. The girl started screaming when he tried to wake her up. At this, Raj Kumar pulled out a knife and stabbed her in the face.

Meanwhile, the two younger sisters sleeping nearby too woke up and tried to grapple with him. In turn they were also stabbed. He then fled and locked himself in a room. He was later found unconscious by the neighbours and taken to the hospital, where he was declared brought dead. He allegedly consumed a poisonous substance, according to the sources. The police has registered a case.



Budget: middle class feels the pinch
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 20
The state unit of the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has dubbed the first Budget as “anti-employee” and “anti-public”.

Dr Shiv Gupta, general secretary, Mr Sunder Lal Mehta, vice-president, and Mr K.R.Tripathi, joint general secretary, in a statement today said that state government was anti-employee and anti-public as it had banned the leave travel concession (LTC), frozen the dearness allowance for one year, replaced the medical reimbursement scheme with medical insurance scheme, implemented Voluntary Retirement Scheme, initiated the revival of leave encashment, and Non practising allowance, privatised Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation and ordered fast-track disinvestment in the PCL, Punjab Alkalis, PTDC, Punwire, PSIDC and aligned pay and allowances of the employees of public sector undertakings with government employees etc.

The INTUC leaders also resented the government’s failure to provide concession to the urban public with regards to exemption from sewerage, house tax and water-supply bills.

However, INTUC appreciated the state government’s move against corruption and ban on foreign tours by ministers and officers. It also the hailed decision to reduce security expenses on the ministers.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Industries and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) today said that current Budget, which indicated to revoking already granted sales tax benefits for 7-10 year period, converting capital subsidy into bonds and increase in electricity rates, would prove “fatal” for thousands of exempted industrial units in the state.

Mr Ashok Juneja, vice-president, CICU, in a press note stated that if the government betrayed from its commitments it would become difficult to rescue the industry that had already become week and feeble due to recession. He said the state government was betraying industrialists by proposing the withdrawal of sales tax exemptions. The government had already imposed surcharge on exempted units. He further urged for revision of electricity rates for the industry.

The Government Pensioners’ Association has also criticised the freezing of dearness allowance (DA) for one year from July this year.

Mr Yash Paul Ghai, additional general secretary, in a statement said such a move had not only caused disappointment among employees but had caused resentment among nearly 7 lakh employees working in Punjab Government departments, boards and corporations. The association warned that if the Budget proposal was not scrapped, it would be forced to launch an agitation against the government.

Meanwhile, the district unit of Democratic Teachers Front, Punjab, has condemned the anti-employees’ Budget passed by the state government. According to a press release issued here today, the general secretary of the teachers’ union, Mr Joginder Azad stated, ‘‘Immediately after the summer vacations in the schools, the teacher community would launch a protest drive for one week. Besides on July 9, a major protest really would be taken out in front of Mini Secretariat here,’’ he added.

The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has rejected the Budget presented by the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, yesterday, describing it as ‘anti-farmers’. According to the BKU president, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, the Budget held nothing for the farming community and the government was forcing the farmers to launch a mass agitation.

In a statement here today, Mr Lakhowal observed that the Budget would adversely affect all sections of the society and in particular, would virtually strangulate the weaker sections, farmers and employees. “The package of financial assistance to farmers for accidents and loss of life during farm operations is a mere eye wash and will not provide much relief.” He said the government had failed to address the burning problem of stagnant agricultural economy which had led to an ever-increasing debt burden and suicides by farmers.

The BKU supremo further charged the government with betraying the interests of the farmers on the issue of bonus on purchase of paddy. “The Congress government came into power on the basis of promised Rs 30 per quintal bonus on paddy but the Budget makes no mention of the same to utter disappointment of the farmers.”

Mr Lakhowal also cautioned the government against any steps to withdraw the facility of free power and water to the farm community and threatened to launch a massive agitation if the government went ahead with any such proposal. He said it was a miss-conception to attribute the mounting losses of the Punjab State Electricity Board to free power for the farmers. “The main reason for massive deficit in the PSEB is corruption at all levels which calls for an intensive cleansing process.”

Meanwhile, the district unit of BJP has also flayed the Budget which it termed as anti-employees, anti-urbanites, anti-traders, anti-farmers and above all anti-people. In a joint statement Mr Harbans Lal Sethi, president and Mr Rajinder Bhandari, general secretary of the party, said that the common man would be forced to pay more for medical treatment, education of children, purchase of consumer goods, toll tax and electricity.

Similarly, the employees, who made significant contribution to the national exchequer by way of income tax, were being victimised by denial of their legitimate right of LTC, DA, medical allowance and leave encashment. The BJP activists also lambasted the government for the proposed cess of Re 1 per litre on petrol, particularly when a hike had recently been made in view of the increase in global prices of oil. They said the Budget was disappointing and direction-less since it failed to address the issues like employment generation, boosting the industrial and agricultural economy.



Safai workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Safai workers protest at the MC headquarters in Ludhiana on Thursday. — IV

Ludhiana, June 20
Safai workers of the Municipal Corporation, led by activists of different trade unions today staged a dharna at the main gate of the civic body. They demanded adequate compensation and jobs for the next of kin of their colleagues, who had died while cleaning a choked sewer line in the Focal Point area in the city yesterday.

Raj Kumar and Neeraj, both working for a private firm, entrusted with the job of maintenance of sewerage and water supply in the area had died due to inhaling poisonous gases and two others — Bunty and Mahesh Pal — had to be admitted in a local hospital in a serious condition.

The protesters charged the civic officials with apathy towards the deceased and said no senior officer had cared to visit the affected families and those admitted in the hospital. They demanded action against the guilty officials and registration of a criminal case against the contractor, whom they held responsible for death of the two men. “The contractor had failed to provide necessary safety equipment to his workers and the supervising officials of the MC had also proved negligent.”

The MC Commissioner Mr S.K. Sharma being away to Chandigarh on official business, the Assistant Commissioner, Mr O.A.K. Sondhi, and the Legal Advisor, Mr Ashok Bazaz, held discussions with representatives of the protesting safai workers. These included Mr Hans Raj Gagat, convener of the Joint Action Committee, Mr Sunder Lal Mehta (INTUC), Mr Walaiti Ram Moong and Mr Lovely Pal Disawar. While making it clear that the civic body had no legal obligation, whatsoever, the officials expressed their deepest sympathies with the bereaved families and assured that the MC would do its utmost to extend a helping hand to those who had lost their bread winners.

Mr Sondhi later told Ludhiana Tribune that the officers of O and M cell, deployed in the Focal Point area would be issued show cause notices and disciplinary action will be taken against the erring employees. The MC would also hold an inquiry to judge the technical competence of the contractor particularly in regard to safety measures being adopted by the private contractor concerned.

According to Mr Sondhi, the legal aspect of lodging a criminal complaint against the contractor was being examined and the civic body would also consider sympathetically the demand for granting compensation and providing jobs to one member each of the affected family on compassionate grounds but the final decision in this respect could only be taken with the approval of the General House and the State Government.

However, the protesting safai workers refused to relent in the absence of a definite undertaking from the civic authorities about compensation and jobs to members of affected families and dharna was continuing till this report was filed.



SBP employees flay anti-union policies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 20
As per the instructions of the State Bank of Patiala Employees Union, Punjab, members of the union staged a dharna in front of Regional Office here today, to protest against the anti-union policies of the management. Besides this members of the union in the district took out a massive protest rally.

According to a press note issued here today, the general secretary of the union, Mr S.K. Gautam, “the bank management is violating the industry wise settlement on computerisation and mechanisation. During the last year, all sections of the staff have extended all out cooperation to bank management but it is quite strange that it is being projected as one-man achievement of the General Manager.”

Mr Gautam further said, “the unconditional support by the staff has been taken by the bank management as a matter of our weakness on number of occasions.” He disclosed, “the bank management agreed in the meeting to grant lumpsum lunch subsidy to staff at the rate of Rs 200 per month per member, with effect from April 1, 2002, out of welfare fund. But now the management considers it a debatable issue.”

Mr Gautam said, “If the management would continue its anti-union attitude, then all the members of the union would stage a dharna in front of head office of the bank at Patiala on July 18, 2002. Moreover, the union would go on a one day strike in the first week of August.”



Photo of ultra’s accomplice released
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
The police has released a photo of the second accomplice of Abdul, the kingpin of a Lashkar-e-Toiba group arrested from the city yesterday. According to police sources, he has been identified as Kamalu Din alias Joginder Singh Hoshiarpuri. He is about 35 years of age, medium built and sports a small beard. A resident of Pakistan, he has received training by the ISI and was one of those who had placed a bomb in a train which went off at Doraha in March. The group has been moving about undetected in Punjab since 1997.

The police is after the remaining two members of the outfit. Search parties have ben sent to Jammu and Kashmir and Pathankot in this connection.



Woman burnt alive, in-laws booked
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 20
The Basti Jodhewal police has registered a case in connection with the alleged burning of a bride yesterday at Hawas village, near here.

The case under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC has been registered on the statement of Mr Karnail Singh, a resident of Machhian Kalan village falling under the Koom Kalan police station. The complainant alleged that his daughter, Kuldeep Kaur, had been married to Puran Singh but her husband and his mother, Gurmit Kaur, used to harass her frequently for more dowry. Both the accused allegedly set her afire yesterday as a result of which she died on the spot. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Traders booked: The Division No. 1 police station on Wednesday booked two manufacturers of plastic goods based at Kesar Ganj Mandi on the complaint of Mr Malwinder Singh, SDM, West. Both owners of Sodhi Plastic Industry and Sandeep Plastic Industry have been booked under the Environment Protection Act of 1986. The SDM had complained that these units were manufacturing substandard stuff.

Poppy husk seized: The Dakha police on Wednesday arrested Jagdish Singh, alias Disha, a resident of Pandori village, and Chhattu Ram, a migrant from Bihar now living in the same village, and seized 40 kg of poppy husk from their possession. Both have been booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

The police registered another case under the NDPS Act against Jagdish Singh for possessing 1,250 gm of opium.

Murder case: The Raikot police on Wednesday registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Gurmail Singh, a resident of Kacha Qila, Raikot, against Sawan. The complainant alleged that the accused, due to old enmity, attacked Pritam Chand on June 18 at Burj Hakima village. The accused is absconding.

Fraud case: On the directions of the SSP, the Division No. 1 police on Wednesday registered a case of fraud under Sections 420, 467, 468 ,471 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Ms Taruna Sharma, wife of Nikhresh Sharma, who resides opposite Punjab and Sind Bank, Kailash chowk, against K.S. Malli, Sukhwinder Kaur Malli, Santokh Singh Basra and Som Basra, all residents of Panchkula, and Santokh Brar, a resident of Urban Estate, Dugri, Ludhiana. The complainant alleged that the accused got Rs 1.25 lakh from her for settling her husband in Canada. But the accused neither settled him as promised, nor returned the money. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Police-public meet: The Inspector, Mr Tarun Rattan, SHO, Amloh, has organised a meeting with councillors, sarpanches and heads of political parties and appealed them to cooperate with the police in maintaining law and order in the town. Mr Kishan Singh, circle jathedar, SAD (A), Mr Sucha Singh, president city unit, SAD (A), Mr Baldev Singh Aulakh, president, Municipal Council, Amloh, and Mr Baldev Sedha, councillor, have suggested to make night patrolling more effective and to stop the sale of intoxicants at the chemist shops.

Seized: The Payal police seized 210 kg of poppy husk from the possession of Sukhwinder Kaur and her son, Mandeep Singh, of Bhadewal village on Wednesday.

According to Mr Rachpal Singh, SHO, Payal police station, the husband of Sukhwinder Kaur, is already in jail as he was caught red-handed by the SHO, Mr Charan Singh Atwal, for possessing two quintals of poppy husk. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.

Body found: The body of Bant Singh (60) of Sekhan village, near Maloud, which was trapped in a well, which caved in on Saturday, was recovered on Wednesday. Bant Singh was repairing the well along with Pargat Singh when the incident occurred. However, Pargat Singh was rescued immediately.

Mr Rachpal Singh, SHO, Payal, said a case had been registered under Section 304-A of the IPC.

Cash, mobile phone stolen: Mr Dheeraj Kumar, a traveller, has lodged a complaint that a bag containing Rs 46,000 and a mobile phone was stolen from a ‘dhaba’ at Barmalipur village, near here. A case has been registered under Section 379 of the IPC.

POs arrested: The local police has arrested Gurmit Singh of Sidhwan Kalan, who was declared a proclaimed offender under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act. In another case, a resident of Bhamipur Kalan village, Hartar Singh, has been arrested after he was declared a proclaimed offender under Sections 323, 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC. Both have been produced in the court of Mr H.S. Grewal, JMIC, who remanded them in judicial custody till July 4.

Man dies of poison: Gurbachan Singh, 17, of Kot Manna village died in the Civil Hospital, here. According to information, the man drank water in a utensil which was used to spray insecticides in the fields. He was taken to Kalyani Hospital, where doctors referred him to the Civil Hospital, where he died.

Sarpanch’s son held: The Dakha police has arrested Deesha of Pandori village and his servant, Chotu Ram, near the bus stand, Dakha, and seized poppy husk and opium from their possession. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against them. Jagdish’s mother is the sarpanch of Pandori village.



Man murders brother’s wife
Our Correspondent

Amloh, June 20
Lakhvir Singh allegedly murdered Sukhdeep Kaur, wife of his brother, Bhinder Singh, with a sword and wounded his father, Sagar Singh, at Salana Jiwan Singh Wala village, near here, on Wednesday.

Mr Sagar Singh, who has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital, said at around 1.30 am on Wednesday he heard cries of Sukhdeep Kaur, who was allegedly attacked by Lakhvir Singh. He, too, was wounded when he tried to save her. Dr Mahesh Jindal, Medical Officer, who has conducted a post-mortem, said the cause of the death was the head injury.


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