Monday, August 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Noormehlia followers not allowed to 
hold ‘samagam’
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Taking a stern decision, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, said he would not allow any such function as it threatened peace in the district. He said the police had been deployed to stop the holding of the function as it was threatening the peace of the area and secondly no prior permission had been taken for it from the district administration.

Harnam Pura (Ludhiana), August 25
The district administration today thwarted an attempt made by the followers of controversial Ashutosh Maharaj, head of the Noormehlia sect to organise a ‘religious samagam’ (function) at Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan near this village, about 15 km from Ludhiana, on the Ludhiana-Doraha canal road.

As no prior permission was obtained by the followers to organise such a function here, heavy police force deployed in the area sent back hundreds of followers and prevented them from organising the function. The heavy police force was also posted to prevent any feared clash between the self-styled ‘godman’s’ followers and activists of the Khalsa Panchayat.

Taking a stern decision, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, said he would not allow any such function as it threatened peace in the district. He said the police had been deployed to stop the holding of the function as it was threatening the peace of the area and secondly no prior permission had been taken for it from the district administration.

Tension prevailed in the area since early morning today as the proposed function was scheduled to be held from 9 to 11 am in open fields just beside the Sidhwan Canal in the village. Trucks and tractor-trailers full of people had started converging on the place but heavy police force turned them back. There was mild opposition but the situation remained under control. The followers had no option but to go back.

According to police sources, a five-member delegation of the Khalsa Panchayat, which is spearheading a campaign against the controversial baba, had met the Deputy Commissioner yesterday and informed him that such a function was being organised on Sunday. They threatened to disrupt the function.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channy, leader of the Khalsa Panchayat, who suffered a gun shot injury during a protest against the Noormehlia sect in Malout last month, confirmed to the Ludhiana Tribune that they had met the Deputy Commissioner and had asked the administration to stop the function or they would do it.

Police officials deployed in the area said two teams of police from the Shimla Puri police station and a reserve battalion had been deployed in the area since morning. When this correspondent reached the site, a number of vehicles carrying the followers of the sect were returning. Police officials, not willing to be quoted, said they had turned the people back as there was no permission to allow the organisation of such functions.

A large ground meant for the function was wearing a deserted look even as pipes and poles had been erected there to put up tents. A concrete room on which loudspeakers were placed in all directions could be seen on one end of the vacant ground. The police sources said the ground was the permanent venue of such functions and a ‘samagam’ was held there on the last Sunday of every month.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channy reiterated the resolve of the Khalsa Panchayat to block all such functions of the Noormehlia sect and adopting any means to achieve their goal.

It may be mentioned here that the organisation of the function today at the village was considered quite sensitive following the refusal of the Sikh High Priests to accept the apology tendered by the self-styled godman. The Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal had also announced its resolve to stop all activities of the controversial sect.



Arrest councillor, commission directs police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
The month-old controversy surrounding a religious place-cum-dharamshala in Santokh Nagar, in which a Municipal Councillor and Vishwa Guru Ravi Dass Mission are at loggerhead, has taken a new turn with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes directing the police to arrest the councillor immediately and furnish a report in the case within a week.

The commission has also directed the police department to depute an officer of the rank of an SP to investigate the case.

The commission gave the direction on a representation filed by the Vishwa Guru Ravi Dass Mission alleging that the councillor had abused and attacked them and the district police was taking sides. The representation also accused the police of inaction in the case.

The councillor, Mr Satpal Puri, has been vehemently denying the allegations for the past one month. He told Ludhiana Tribune that the complainants were misusing certain clauses in the SC-ST Act-1989 and levelling false allegations against him. In an earlier press statement, Mr Puri had said he was the aggrieved party in the case. He was assaulted in full public view at the Shimla Puri police station by the mission activists .

The controversy surrounds a religious place and some adjoining rooms in Santokh Nagar. Mr Puri had claimed that the building and the land was of the public and he had only requested the Guru Ravi Dass Sewa Sadan Society to give them a piece of land in one corner of the building premises to install a tubewell. He said he was, however, abused and intimidated.

He said when he along with other residents of the area lodged a complaint with the police, some members of the mission came there and manhandled him and his son. He said it happened in the presence of the police but no action was taken against the attackers.

Mr Jaswant Kataria and Mr Shiv Ram Saroya, Chairman and President, respectively, of the Guru Ravi Dass Mission, however, claimed that the building in question was a religious place and the councillor wanted to grab it in the garb of installing a tubewell there.

Stepping in the controversy, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes upheld the complaint of the mission activists. In a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Tanzin Wangyal, Director of the commission, observed that the police was adopting delaying tactics in the case. Even after a lapse of over two weeks, the police had not arrested the accused who had passed derogatory remarks against a Dalit.

The commission said it had no confidence on the present inquiry officer in the case and a police officer of the rank of an SP should be deputed to investigate the case. The police has been directed to file its action report within a week.



‘Swindler’ eludes police
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, August 25
A ‘swindler’ specialising in land-grabbing and wanted in connection with another case registered at the Sarabha Nagar police station under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC has been eluding the police for the past three days.

Mr Ajay Kumar Singhania, a resident of Aggar Nagar, lodged an FIR on August 21 alleging that Swatantar Kumar Sharma and his brother, Ramesh Kumar Sharma, had sold their properties in Sector-B of Aggar Nagar to him in May 2001. While Swatantar Kumar handed over the possession of his property, a two-storey shop-cum-flat measuring 110 sq yards, at the time of the sale deed, his brother Ramesh Kumar, who also sold off his three-storey shop-cum-flat of the same measurement and adjoining that of his brother, handed over the possession of the ground floor. According to the FIR, Ramesh Kumar, had told Mr Singhania that he was fully competent to sell his share of the property and that his brother was living with him as a family member. Ramesh Kumar pleaded with the buyer that since he was facing some ‘unavoidable’ family problems, he would hand over the possession of the other two floors within a month or so. Mr Singhania, in his statement recorded with the police, maintained that Ramesh Kumar bought one month’s time on the plea that his wife was ill and the exams of his children were approaching. At the expiry of the stipulated period, when Mr Singhania asked Ramesh Kumar to hand over the possession, he started dilly-dallying on one pretext or the other. Having failed to take the possession after repeated requests, the buyer approached the police which effected a compromise that possession would be given by October 31, 2001.

The FIR further states that when Mr Singhania again approached Ramesh Kumar after that to hand over possession of the other two floors, Ramesh Kumar and Swatantar Kumar refused to do so. On top of that, they allegedly started abusing and threatening the buyer. At the same time, the brothers allegedly threatened that if Mr Singhania did not pay Rs 5 lakh to them within a month, he would be abducted and murdered.

The initial complaint made by Mr Singhania to Mr Shiv Kumar Sharma, the then SP (D), was referred to the DA (Legal) for his opinion who opined that: “It appears that Ramesh Kumar Sharma and Swatantar Kumar Sharma have played fraud with the complainant with dishonest and fraudulent intention and hatched a criminal conspiracy in order to extort money and not give the possession of the property to him. The DA further recommended registration of a case under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC against the accused”.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, SHO, Sarabha Nagar police station, said today that he had conducted raids on a couple of places to nab Swatantar Kumar. Asked about the background of the accused, the SHO said he was allegedly involved in a couple of similar cases of fraud involving property.

A case was registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120 -B and 34 of the IPC on June 6, 2001, against Swatantar Kumar on a complaint filed by Mr Vijay Kumar, a resident of Tilak Nagar on the Chauri Sarak at the same police station, added the SHO.



Daily power cut irks villagers
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, August 25
Residents of Bilga village, near here, are irked over the erratic power supply to the village for the past 15 days.

According to Guninder Singh, a transporter and resident of Bilga village, “We are daily forced to spend sleepless nights as the power supply is withdrawn exactly at 10 pm and restored only at 6 in the morning. Ours is the last village in the Ludhiana belt and we are suffering for a fortnight without regular power supply.”

Villagers say that when they enquired about the matter from the authorities, they expressed their utter helplessness in this regard. They said that they were put off with the simple answer that the cut is from Patiala and that, too, for an unlimited period of time, as their is no date fixed for the normal supply yet.

Mr Jaswinder Singh , Sub Divisional Officer of the PSEB, In charge Sahnewal grid, said a four-wire system runs through Bilga village and for all such areas, fed with four-wire system, the power cut is the same. The villages fed under three- wire system have to undergo the cuts separately at other times.



Residents going for security gadgets
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 25
The alarming increase in the incidents of crime seem to be prompting people to switch over to the latest electronic security gadgets, which are already available in the market at affordable prices in a wide range. These included closed circuit television (CCTV) surveillance system powered with 24-hour chargeable battery back up, card-based access control, intrusion and fire alarm system, integrated building management and security systems and audio and video door phones and electronic locks.

While the CCTV is quite old now, the market has now been flooded with other gadgets that are available in the price range of Rs 8,000 to 15,000, within the reach of an average middle class. These gadgets are mainly aimed at the people who cannot afford to hire the services of highly-paid security agencies, but still want round-the-clock vigil.

According to Mr Vineet Bajaj of a company dealing in security gadgets, there is a growing demand for such gadgets after increase in incidents of robberies and murders in urban areas. “And we responded to the demand positively at a reasonable price”, he claimed.

He said the latest system offered fool-proof security system that not only alerted the owners but also scared the intruders. “Some of the equipment like the audio or video door phones and electronic locks provide for the house owner to monitor the arrival of visitors from anywhere he is sitting. He can control the opening and closure of the gate anywhere from inside the house. These audio and video door phones can also be used in multi-storey complexes”, he said.

Besides the fire or robbery alarm system, which can be linked with the cell or land phone, can alarm a person wherever he or she is in case of any mishap at home.


Art of Living course for jail inmates
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 25
Over the past few weeks as many as 300 inmates of Central Jail, Tajpur Road, have been practising ‘‘Art of Living’’. Ms Jaya Vatsayan had conducted the course and Mr Sudhir Mahajan, the organiser and many volunteers from Art of Living helped Jaya in conducting the course.

The presence of Sri Prayagji, the All India Co-ordinater for the ‘‘Art of Living’’ at the ‘Prison Smart Programme’ brought joy among the participants. Sri Prayag, while addressing the inmates of the jail said, ‘‘This stay in prison can be a stepping stone to positive change and transformation. We must learn to take responsibility and we will leave our mark in the world. Each one of us has the potential to become a Gandhi, a Patel or an Aurobindo’’, he said.

He further said the ‘‘Prison Smart Programme’’ devised by the founder Sri  Ravi Shankar had helped 34,000 prisoners all over the world to lead normal lives, taking responsibilities of themselves and others.


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