Tuesday, August 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Physically challenged war hero seeks justice
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
Even as the Central Government had assured that due care would be taken before sealing the petrol stations allotted to the ex-servicemen and sports-persons in the infamous petrol pump scam, the petrol station of a 1971 war hero, has also been sealed by Hindustan Petroleum Limited.

The victim, Mr Jeet Singh, has been crying hoarse as he had been allotted the station after 30 years of struggle, got it functioning almost an year ago and suffered two major robberies, none of which had been solved by the Ludhiana police.

His petrol station in Khanpur village was one of the dozen stations that were sealed two days ago in the city despite the fact that he had all the documents vindicating his stand that he was allotted the station genuinely and had not used any influence for getting it.

Mr Jeet Singh worked as a sepoy in the Indian Army and almost lost his left arm in the 1971 Indo-Pak war in Bangladesh. He was allotted a petrol station in Khanpur village near here in 2000, much after he had been promised many incentives like a piece of land and employment for his wards by the Ministry of Defence, Government of India. But he was not given anything in all these years and only last year he was allotted a petrol station that too after a great difficulty.

According to the documents in his possession, he had 90 per cent disability in his left arm as he had received numerous bullet injuries in the Indo-Pak war and was boarded out of service. According to a certificate signed by Brig Kuldip Singh Kahlon, Director Sainik Welfare Board, he was a very sincere and hardworking soldier.

A war hero, who has been honoured by the successive state as well as Central governments, Jeet Singh today was bewildered at the termination orders cancelling the allotment of his station, just a year after he had come to this city from Amritsar selling all his property in a hope that life would be better for him and his family.

But fate and scam-ridden-Indian Government had something else in store for him. He had sold all his property and invested the money in this station only to realise later that he was also being treated like others who had used their position to get the allotments of a petrol station or a gas agency.

“I am cursing the day when I had read an advertisement in a newspaper about the allotment of a petrol-station to an ex-serviceman in the handicapped category. I applied for the same as the Directorate General, Resettlement, Ministry of Defence had given me an eligibility certificate. I was allotted the station. I spent all my money on it only to be left on the roads in the twilight of my life,” said a disappointed Jeet Singh.

For the past many days since he had got the cancellation orders he had been running from pillar to post to save his station but to no avail. It was sealed by the company officials. He had even given an application in the Supreme Court praying for the staying of the cancellation. “I showed all documents to the team of officials but to no avail. They said that they could not do anything as these were the orders from top. This is what they do to a soldier who had become handicapped and was even willing to give his life for the nation. I had given my youth to the country and had hoped that my twilight years would be safe now. Is it a way of treating them?” asked the ex-serviceman.

“We are virtually on the roads now as I had already sold all property as I was living in Amritsar. I came to this city last year as I was allotted the station here. I am living on rent and my family would have to move out now as petrol station was the only source of my income now.” he added.



Shops on MC land face demolition
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, August 19
With extended litigation coming to an end and the legal hurdles out of the way, the demolition squad of the Municipal Corporation is getting ready to bulldoze the nine shops in commercial hub of Talab Bazar Market, which were extended on the civic body land by covering an open drain in the market in 1998.

The shops, initially constructed by the management of Talab Mandir, in 1992, had earned notoriety when a portion of the open drain in front of the shops was permanently covered a few years back by a cement floor and each shop encroached upon an area of around 140 square feet. The massive exercise of encroaching upon the MC land was allegedly carried out under the patronage of the then BJP councillor, who in complicity with an office bearer of the Talab Bazar Market Association and certain members of the Mandir Committee, is alleged to have collected money, running into several lakhs from the beneficiary shopkeepers, for this purpose.

The matter was also raised in the MC General House during the previous term and the House had resolved to get the matter probed by a sub-committee, comprising MC officials and the then councillors. But as happens with all such inquiries, nothing substantial was achieved in this respect.

The MC had, on an earlier occasion, issued notices to the shopkeepers, charging them with encroaching upon the civic body land and orders were also issued for demolition of the extended portion of the shops but in the face of stiff resistance by the shopkeepers and the then councillor, who was said to be having a vested interest, the demolition orders were held in abeyance. Fearing that the MC might initiate drastic action for encroachment on government land at any time, the shopkeepers had filed similar civil suits in the lower court, pleading that the MC should be restrained from interfering with the portion of shops, extended on the covered drain.

The court, however, dismissed their cases without giving any relief on December 15 last year and a subsequent appeal, referred by the shopkeepers to the Sessions Court here against the judgement of the lower court, was also dismissed on May 4, 2002.

The MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, has issued formal orders for demolition of the part of shops, raised on the covered drain and apprehending resistance by the shopkeepers to the proposed operation, the civic body has sought adequate police assistance through a DO letter to the District Magistrate.


Banks told not to harass assessees
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
“Banks cannot ask for the proof of having applied for permanent account number (PAN) and tax account number (TAN) at the time of accepting returns, but a statement by the assessee that he or she has applied for PAN/TAN is sufficient,” said Mr Ashok Juneja, president of the Taxation Bar Association, and Mr B.R. Kaushal, general secretary of the body, in a clarification given at a meeting between the office-bearers of the TBA and senior income-tax officials.

The meeting was convened by Mr Sat Paul, Commissioner of Income Tax (Administration), in Aayakar Bhavan here to discuss ways for the smooth working of the department. The IT Commissioner told members of the taxation Bar that all grievances of assessees would be redressed.

On being told that certain banks were refusing to accept taxes from assessees who had not been allotted PAN and TAN and demanding proofs of application, the IT officials said the Central Board of Direct Taxes had told the banks to accept challans from taxpayers who had applied for PAN/TAN, provided the taxpayers produced copies of applications or gave written statements of having applied for PAN/TAN. Banks should cooperate with the assessees and accept income tax as per the guidelines, the officials said.

Mr Juneja and Mr Kaushal said taxation lawyers had been assured by the Commissioner of Income Tax that pending applications for PANs, refunds, rectifications, appeals and deductions of tax at lower rates would be disposed of soon. Applications for registration of charitable and religious institutions will also be processed quickly.

Mr Sat Paul said more eligible persons should file their income-tax returns. He said no assessee would be harassed and the IT officials would fully cooperate with the new assessees.



DMCH staff back amid confusion
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
Confusion and chaos prevailed among employees of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) when they joined duties after almost two months here today.

The striking employees were supposed to report on their duties today at 8 a.m. on the hospital premises but the leaders and employees, still under the hangover of victory, gathered at the park outside the DMCH and started delivering lectures for about two hours.Meanwhile, the striking employees got confused when the attendants at Hero DMC Heart Institute did not allow them to join their duties.

Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, supporting the employees, said nobody was at fault but there was a total confusion. “Initially when the employees came to report on their duties in the morning, there was confusion over the number of employees but it was later resolved and employees joined their duties before noon”, said Mr Dhanda.

It is pertinent to mention here that the crisis plaguing the DMCH for two months finally came to an end on August 17 with the signing of an agreement between the management and employees’ union in the presence of district administration.

A collective decision was taken that the issues that have not been resolved will be put before a newly-constituted eight-member committee consisting of four representatives of the DMCH union, two representatives of managing society and two representatives of the DMCH administration. The agreement also mentioned that the issues referred to the committee will be resolved within two months.



Cong govt vindictive and revengeful: BJYM
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) has charged the Congress government with pursuing policies that were detrimental to all sections of the people and the police was hounding out activists of the erstwhile ruling combine in a vindictive and revengeful manner.

Mr Sukhminderpal Singh Grewal, state president of the morcha, said in a statement here today that after assuming power, the actions and steps taken by the Congress government in Punjab were not favourable to the farmers, employees, traders and industrialists. At the same time, all development works had been halted. Further, during the course of its so called anti-corruption campaign, which was at best selective and motivated, the police was acting in a vindictive manner against the BJP-SAD workers.

Mr Grewal said it was ridiculous that senior officials of the Vigilance Bureau, Mr A.P. Bhatnagar and Mr Sumedh Singh Saini were sidelined at a time when they were effectively exposing the of job-for-cash scam. The action of the government and its timing had raised serious doubts among the people. He said the previous government had provided a big relief to trade and industry through abolition of octroi but the same was reimposed much to the frustration of the beneficiaries only because the new regime failed to properly plead the case before the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Recalling various concessions granted by the SAD-BJP to the trading community, the BJYM functionary said the then government had introduced summary assessment. deemed assessment, abolished sales tax form XXII and sales tax form XXII-A. Further, barriers were removed and replaced with information collection centers.

But the Congress government appeared to be moving in the reverse direction which was evident from the fact that the state Assembly had provided power to impose 6 per cent fee on the goods specified in Schedule III of the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, bringing dhabas under the purview of sales tax, an 8 per cent tax was imposed on them. Similarly, sales tax on cement was increased from 8.8 to 13.10 per cent and to make the matters worse, the government had decided to impose 4 percent entry tax on yarn, paper, iron and steel scrap.

Mr Grewal observed that unlimited discretionary power always bred corruption. “On one side the Congress government promises corruption free government while on the other it is giving more powers to officials, which in turn will increase corruption manifold.” He said the Punjab Government had collected Rs 715.36 crore as sales tax, excise duty and license free till May this year which was 7.5 per cent more as compared to corresponding period of last year, but still government had been putting all sorts of financial burden on common people by way of more taxes and depriving the employees of their rightful allowances and other financial benefits.


Change likely in DCC leadership
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
With the change of guard in the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) after Mr H.S. Hanspal took over as president yesterday, speculations are rife over the possible change in the District Congress Committee leadership. Both Mr K.K. Bawa, president DCC (urban), and Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, president, DCC (rural), are likely to be replaced by new presidents.

This has already intensified the lobbying for the two plum party posts of the district. Particularly after the party came to power, the district presidents (for urban as well as rural) hold considerable influence over the functioning of the administration and also over the party.

The incumbent president, Mr Bawa, said he had no information so far about his being replaced. However, he added, he was prepared to relinquish the post as and when the party leadership wanted and asked him to. “As a disciplined soldier of the party I am prepared to perform any duty I would be assigned by the high command”, he said, while adding that he was satisfied with his performance so far and it had been appreciated and acknowledged by the senior leaders also.

Mr Bawa was appointed the DCC(urban) president after his predecessor, Mr Surinder Dawer, was allotted the party ticket for Ludhiana east. Mr Bawa also claims the credit for the sweeping victory with the party bagging all the four urban seats of the district. Since then he has been continuously organising various programmes for the party. But a section of the party from the urban leadership remained indifferent towards him as they considered him to be an outsider. Mr Bawa hails from Mullanpur village which falls in rural district. However, Mr Bawa has since moved to the city and has been living here only.

Some of the front-runners for the DCC (urban) included Mr Ramesh Joshi, PCC general secretary, Mr Shyam Sunder Malhotra, Mr Pappi Prashar, Mr Jagmohan Sharma and Mr Satpal Beri. All of them have long time association with the Congress as they have worked on different post during all these years.

Mr Ramesh Joshi has also handled the PCC office in Chandigarh during the Chief Ministership of Mr Beant Singh. He is strongly being backed by the former DCC president, Mr Surinder Dawer. Mr Pappi Prashar is the PCC general secretary. He was appointed to the post after he withdrew from the contest against Mr Dawer. He was reportedly assured of appointment as DCC president. Mr Jagmohan Sharma is mainly a business man and the president of the traders’ wing of the party. He has been associated with the party for a long time. Mr Satpal Beri is a councillor. Mr Shyam Sunder Malhotra is a former councillor of the party. Two of the aspirants have their pronounced affiliation with the Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

For the DCC (rural) the three main contenders included former minister, Mr Isher Singh Kum Kallan, Mr Darshan Singh Brar, who contested independently from Jagraon after being denied the party ticket, and Mr Harmohinder Singh, a former DCC (rural) president and an ex-legislator from Raikot constituency. 



PSEB fails to repair damaged building
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
Attacking two power stations at Lalton Kalan village in protest against irregular power-supply on July 15 proved costly for residents of Dullon Khurd village as they had to pay a fine of Rs 80,000 to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), apart from greasing the palms of some cops to get them out of trouble.

But even as the farmers have paid the fine to the PSEB and cops been “rewarded for their efforts ” , the two power stations are yet to gain anything as not even a single penny has reached the power stations authorities to get the damages repaired. And even after a month, the broken windowpanes and doors had not been repaired.

Dullon Khurd was the only village in the district where the farmers had resorted to attacking the power stations to give vent to their anger against frequent power cuts and PSEB sources said the fine was imposed so that the case became an example for others.

Some villagers said there was a unanimous approval among farmers for paying the fine to compensate for damaging the government property. But paying the fine had not been easy due to lack of rains and subsequent increase in cost of farming , they said

The farmers decided to pay the fine instead of facing criminal charges as the Ludhiana police had cracked down on the village after the PSEB lodged a complaint. A PSEB official also admitted that the money should have reached the power stations as the damage had to be repaired fast.

As many as 40 farmers of Dullon Khurd village were involved in the incident which had caused an estimated damage of Rs 85,000 to the PSEB.

Mr Baldev Singh, a sub-station operator and an eye-witness to the hour- long drama, had told the police that the farmers, armed with sticks, had barged into the sub-stations demanding restoration of power supply to their village.

According to PSEB officials, the Area Load Dispatch Centre suffered a loss of Rs 35,000 while the 220 KV sub-station suffered Rs 50,000 loss in the attack.

The sources, while admitting the erratic power supply, said they were helpless as the dismal power scenario in the state was due to delayed monsoon.



Changing designs of rakhis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
While many Indian festivals are losing their sheen as the ‘Valentine culture’ has taken over, raksha bandhan, a festival depicting the bond of love between a sister and a brother, has managed to survive.

In fact, the festival has become a day to be cherished all the more as the modern world has given a new concept to it altogether with a great variety of rakhis as well as the return gifts being sold in the market. Call it commercialisation or the spirit of the festival-loving Indians who do not want to miss a chance to enjoy the festival spirit.

The markets are flooded with rakhis in their new avatar. The rakhis neatly packed in coloured paper folded Origami style, with sindoor, and small baubles, all packed in gold brocade pouch depict the latest trend of rakhis. These are finding a great favour with sisters. Rakhis with semi-precious stone, gold plated Lakshmi and Ganesh coins, and silver rakhis designed like bracelets are also selling well.

The rakhis studded with American diamonds are liked by the sisters for their brothers who like flashy rakhis. Anuja said, “For my elder married brother, I will buy a sober rakhi, a ‘dori’ strung with sandalwood beads and for my younger brother, I will buy a rakhi with a Batman. He is going to love it as he is an ardent collector of Batmans.”

Aarti and her friends said,” The sheer variety of rakhis have flummoxed us.

There is a lot more variety than last year. The price range also is very wide. For our innumerable cousins, we are buying ‘dori’ rakhis with stones, rather inexpensive, and for our real brothers, we are buying silver bracelets . Though it is expensive , but they can wear it all the time.”

According to Vijay Kumar, a wholeseller in Gurmandi, the trend of rakhis has changed dramatically this year. He said, “Earlier the rakhis came in silk and ribbon, had flowers in ‘zari’ and foam and were big in size. But now the customers are following the line of ‘small is beautiful”.

The rakhis are in a form of thin, sleek ‘dori’ with stones strung in it. The children never had it so good. The little boys can wear rakhis with ‘teddy bears’, racing cars, and cult figures like Robin, Spiderman. The manufacturers have really felt the pulse of the customers. Musical rakhis that play the tune ‘Bhaiya Mere Rakhi ke Bandhan ko Nibhana from Alwar are very fast selling item.

Rakhis from Ahmedabad have Ganesh made in gold plated material and sandalwood beads and colourful doris while the rakhis from Mumbai and Kolkata have their own designs with rakhis with studded stones.

The wholesale markets of Gurmandi, Chaura Bazar and Talaab Bazaar have the biggest stockists of rakhis of the town.

They feel though the designs and variety in rakhis are mind boggling, the sale is reduced due to a general slump in the market. 



Residents oppose weighbridge
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
Residents of Dashmesh Nagar locality on the Gill road here are up in arms against construction of a “dharm kanta” (weighbridge) on the corner of street No. 16 in the congested area on the ground that the proposed structure would obstruct the flow of traffic.

A meeting of the area residents, presided over by Mr Baldev Singh, urged the municipal corporation authorities to take necessary steps to restrain the owner of the building not to go ahead with the construction, which even otherwise was being made without an approved building plan and required permission from the Department of Weights and Measures.

According to affected residents, the construction of the weighbridge was taken up by Mr Paramjit Singh on June 12 when the MC authorities had intervened and stopped the construction. Thereafter, the construction activity was resumed on August 10 late in the evening with the obvious intention of raising the structure on Saturday and Sunday when the civic body offices were closed. However, the residents lodged a complaint with the police and the construction was stopped.

In the meantime, the MC officials of Zone C also visited the site and told the owner not to take up the construction since no approval had been obtained for the same. The residents apprehended that the owner of the building, where weighbridge was proposed to be set up, being well connected, might exploit his contacts and influence of certain political leaders to move the civic officials in his favour. In a representation submitted to the MC Commissioner, they have demanded that no permission should be granted for the weighbridge in this locality in view of existing traffic congestion in the area. 



JE’s death condoled
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
A meeting of the Municipal Corporation Engineers Association was held under the presidentship of Mr Joginder Singh Sandhu to condole the death of Nirmal Singh Bhullar, a Junior Engineer with the Improvement Trust, Ludhiana, who was killed when a man opened fire on a party that had gone to demolish his house built on illegally occupied land of the trust.

Extending their condolences to the bereaved family, the members demanded all possible help from the Chief Minister for the family of the deceased, besides due benefits from the district administration and the Improvement Trust authorities.

Mr H.C. Salaria, general secretary of the association, said junior engineers, assistant engineers, assistant town planners and other staff members had to face such situations while removing encroachments on government land belonging to various departments, boards and local bodies in the state.

He demanded that the staff deputed on such duties must be given full protection and a special armed force must accompany all demolition squads. Mr Salaria added that the association would extend every help to the Improvement Trust Engineers Association in this context.



Welfare schemes for tribes sought
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
The All-India Tribes Dal has demanded welfare schemes for the tribes which have not been rehabilitated for the past 50 years and are living a life of abject poverty.

According to Rana Bawa Singh, chairman of the dal, they have been taking up the matter with the government for the past many years but nothing came out of it. “We have petitioned the President, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition but they too have failed to provide any relief,” he added.

He said more than 70 per cent of them were living below the poverty line but had not been given any benefit like subsidised foodgrains or other financial assistance. Their wards are not being admitted to schools. Where are the opportunities for our youth who are illiterate and have no future ? he questioned.

Mr Singh added that it was an irony that most of the benefits, including reservations, announced by the government over the years have been cornered by the Ramdasias, Valmikis and Mazhabis in the state. They only form 25 per cent of their 15 lakh strong population. The really needy ones comprising Sikligars, Barrars, Sansis, Dhehes, Nat, Bangalas, Bawarias, Borias, Bazigars and any others are the most neglected and have to fend for themselves. It is like living as second-class citizens in our own country, he pointed out.



Folk songs mark Teej celebrations
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 19
“Saawan mein aaya teejon ka tyohar, karle gori phoolon se shingar”, women of the Gayatri Ladies Club celebrated the festival of Teej on Monday. They were specially dressed for the occasion wearing colourful suits with tucked dupattas, saggi phul, sing tapiti, choorian (bangles) and henna applied on their hands. There was a dress-code of yellow and green.

A Teej Queen competition was organised on the occasion. The contest was divided into two age groups. Group one was for the members below 35 years age and group second was for the members above 35 years. 



Tangri’s office demolished
Tribune News Service

The damaged roof of the office of Jagdish Tangri, in Gur Mandi, LudhianaLudhiana, August 19
There was tension in Gur Mandi here today after some parts of the office of Jagdish Tangri, a former president of the Shiv Sena (Rashtrawadi), were demolished. It has been alleged that the newly formed temple management committee and the Shiv Sena was responsible for the damage. However, the police did not say who had demolished the office.

The attackers damaged the roof, staircase and the boundary walls of the office of Jagdish Tangri.

The damaged roof of the office of Jagdish Tangri, in Gur Mandi, Ludhiana, on Monday. — Photo Inderjeet Verma


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