Sunday, September 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Savings schemes agent dupes residents of lakhs
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service


  • The amount of fraud may touch Rs 1-crore mark.
  • She pocketed the money instead of depositing it in the post office.
  • The modus operandi was to use fake stamps and fake passbooks besides making false entries.
  • The woman has disappeared after selling her property at throwaway prices.
  • Rag-pickers are worst hit as they deposited their small earnings.

Ludhiana, September 14
A woman agent of small savings schemes with the Post Office and District Small Savings Department has allegedly duped hundreds of city residents of lakhs of rupees by pocketing their monthly instalments instead of depositing these with the departments concerned for the past five years.

The two departments managed to detect the fraud after some policy-holders learnt about the cheating by the agent, Kiran Bala, and complained the matter to the authorities.

After going through the inquiry reports, Deputy Commissioner, Anurag Aggarwal directed the district police to register a case of fraud and cheating against the agent.

The police is however, yet to register a case. Police sources said they had requested the two departments to send them original complaints for registration of cases but so far the departments had not replied.

Department sources said very few victims of the fraud had learnt about it so far and according to their claims the fraud is worth lakhs. But as more and more affected people are coming up with claims, the fraud may soon cross the one-crore mark. It is one of the biggest fraud played by an agent, sources said.

The policy-holders range from employees with private and government organisations, shopkeepers, businessmen, housewives and even rag-pickers and some labourers. The policy holders may have to struggle a lot to get their money back as inquiries by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that she had sold off all her property in Shimla Puri and her residence in Ahluwalia Street, Vishvakarama Chowk and vanished with her family.

The agent, bearing number CA-338662 allegedly duped the policy-holders by using fake stamps and fake passbooks, besides false entries. Policy-holders like Indra Ahluwalia, Yuvraj Ahluwalia, Manju, Prem Lata, Smriti and Om Prakash Aggarwal have in their complaints to Mr A.K. Sharma, District Savings Officer, and Mr M. L. Summan, Senior Superintendent of Post Office, alleged that the agent did not deposit their instalments with the departments for past over three years.

She allegedly completed all entries in the victim’s passbooks and also used a fake stamp of post offices. It was only later that the victims came to know that the stamps were duplicate. Now they can only claim that amount, which was deposited with the respective departments.

While Mr Summan could not be contacted, Mr A K Sharma, District Savings Officer, confirmed the fraud and its magnitude. He said the department was in the process of furnishing original complaints to the police as required. The only problem they were facing was that some of the complainants had reportedly got their money back from the accused agent using some pressure.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that at least two complainants got their money back from the agent with the help of some policemen from the Division No. 2 police station just a day before the agent absconded.

The fraud was the most-discussed topic in Ahluwalia street, Vishvakarma Chowk here, where the accused woman lived. Neighbours and shopkeepers of the area told Ludhiana Tribune that several people had come since today morning asking for the woman. But the woman had left the place yesterday only. She had sold off her house and shops at throw away prices and ran away.

One thing that remained unexplained so far was how the two departments did not learn about the alleged fraud all these years. Department sources said they usually don’t bother if a policy-holder stops paying instalments. They, however, admitted that had the department paid attention at the time when the instalments of majority of policy-holders of the agent stopped, the fraud could have been detected. Still they claimed that it was not their job. The departments have, however, so far not initiated action against any employee. The possibility of this was remote, sources added.



Villagers, students up in arms
Seek resignation of Malwa institutes’ chief
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Samrala, September 14
Residents and students of more than 15 villages in this area are up in arms over the ‘rampant mismanagement’ prevalent at the local Malwa College and Malwa Modern School, besides the alleged autocratic style of functioning of the president of the management committee.

Malwa College was established in 1965 by residents of the area who had formed the Malwa Educational Council under the chairmanship of the then legislator and minister Ajmer Singh. The college is a premier institute of the area from where a generation of students passed to make it big in life.

But the state of affairs over a decade has raised a question mark on its functioning and has understandably invoked the ire of the villagers, who want its past glory regained. The school, too, was started by the council to enable the students of nearby villages to have access to good basic and primary schooling.

Villagers have started an indefinite fast in support of their demands, including the removal of the president and disbanding of the present management committee. Students, too, have been boycotting their classes for the past two weeks.

The state of affairs at the school can be gauged from the fact that at one time it had more than 1,000 students on its rolls, whose number has dwindled to just 250 today. “The functioning and the student strength at the college is also a matter of concern to us”, villagers alleged.

According to old-timers of Bondli, where the college is located, as many as 22 acres of prime land was donated by the village panchayat for setting up the two institutes. A large sum was also collected by the villagers by way of donations. Everybody felt that good educational facilities should be made available to their wards nearby at a reasonable cost.

Things went on smoothly for more than 30 years under the able guidance of the late Ajmer Singh and the institutes scaled new heights in the field of education, sports and culture. A 200-member working committee was constituted with the sarpanch of Bondli and another sarpanch from were incorporated as lifetime members. The whole body worked in tandem and decisions over the years only took the council from strength to strength.

The villagers alleged that things took a turn for the worse after the confirmation of Mr Umrao Singh Kang, a former police officer, and nephew of Mr Ajmer Singh, as the president of the council in 1992. He was initially appointed as acting president in 1990, but ‘managed’ to get himself confirmed two years later.

“Ever since he took over, he started functioning autocratically. The council was overlooked and a new managing committee was constituted by him which was packed with his confidants. All established norms of management were thrown into the winds and a virtual police ‘raj’ was established. Strong-arm tactics became the order of the day and soon after violent clashes became the norm to settle all differences of opinion”, they pointed out.

“This led to polarisation of forces and the students, too, were used to settle scores. The reputation and ambience of the college got sullied. Students soon started opting for other colleges and the institutes stopped attracting good teachers.” “Not only this, in 1995-96, the villagers in a joint resolution protested against the alleged bunglings of the Principal and appointed a five member committee to look into the charges. The findings of this committee were not only overlooked, but also the president appointed another committee to look into the matter, the investigations of which are still under way. This only reinforced our resolve that the president is out to destroy the institutes”, they alleged.

The last straw in the continuing episode was the disbandment of a four-member high-powered committee appointed in March to suggest steps to improve the functioning of the institutes by Mr Kang. He did not like the recommendations and appointed another committee on August 21. Another meeting scheduled to discuss the same matter on August 31, too, was postponed by the president.

A memorandum was also submitted to the SDM, Samrala, who invited the president for the meeting .



Legal notice to doctor
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, September 14
An aggrieved client has served a legal notice on a city doctor, accusing him of harassing and charging money from him without performing surgery on his 13-year old son. He has demanded that the fee should be refunded to him with the interest amount.

In the legal notice, Malkiat Singh, a resident of Sangrur district, has alleged that Dr Darshan Singh of Preet Hospital had given the opinion that Jaspreet Singh (Malkiat Singh’s son) was suffering from perforated appendix and had to be operated upon for the same to save his life. For this, Malkiat Singh was charged about Rs 30,000 by the doctor.

Despite the doctor’s assurance and claim that the child had been operated upon and the perforated appendix removed, Jaspreet’s condition worsened day by day, alleged the father. Malkiat Singh further added that when the doctor left hope of curing the child and when the child became very serious, he took him to Deep Hospital, where the doctor found that the child was still suffering from the same disease and that the appendix had not been removed.

According to the legal notice, the appendix was immediately removed at Deep Hospital and the removed piece of appendix was got tested at Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH), General Pathology, which certified the same as piece of “Acute Appendicitis.”

Malkiat Singh alleged,” Without performing the operation, the doctor charged a huge amount. The doctor knew that the life of my son was in danger still he deliberately did not perform operation. Who could be held responsible if the child lost his life?” asked the father.

As per the notice, the doctor issued a false certificate of operating the patient. This unethical act had caused disgrace and dishonour to the medical profession and the child and his family had to suffer mental agony for many days, alleged the father.

Malkiat Singh maintained that the doctor aggravated the disease of the child by keeping him at his hospital. “I had to pay Rs 28,000 for the operation and medicines at Deep Hospital also. If the doctor fails to give me compensation, I will move court”, threatened Malkiat Singh.



Campaign against bank defaulters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 14
In its campaign against bank defaulters and fiscal mismanagement in the country, the local Citizens Action Front today organised a people’s assembly on ‘Fiscal Crisis, Corporate Loan and Challenges Ahead’. It demanded that immediate action should be taken for the recovery of loans from the defaulters.

The assembly expressed anguish that on the one hand nearly half of the population in the country was living below the poverty line, with majority of people devoid of basic necessities of the life, while on the other a few affluent and influential people and corporate houses of the country were ruling the roost with a huge sum of over Rs 1,00,000 crore borrowed from the banks.

The speakers at the assembly gave a clarion call that when there was an ordinance to this effect, the bank administration should take immediate action in this regard and recover loans from the corporate sector. The assembly asked the Deputy Commissioner to call a meeting of the District Consultative Committee on Banks in his capacity as its Chairman and ensure recovery of all such loans falling within his jurisdiction of Ludhiana district. The list of all such defaulters has already been released by the All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA).

Dr Sucha Singh, an economist from Punjabi University, Patiala, said the crisis had developed as a result of wrong policies pursued by the government. To overcome the crisis, he said, the government was selling its own assets and inviting foreign direct investment. “No attention is being paid to indigenous resources generation”, he pointed out. He regretted that “the approach of self-reliant economy has now been changed to the IMF and World Bank dependent economy”.



No threat of floods: DC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 14
With the Sutlej flowing several feet below the danger mark, there is no immediate threat of flash floods in the district. The district administration is taking all precautions and has deployed employees of the Drainage Department for round-the-clock vigil of the Dhussi Bund.

Police personnel of the Sadar police inspected the areas alongside the bund and met villagers. Sources said the water level was 770 feet, which is below the danger mark, 779 feet. They said as the rain stopped today so the chances of floods were reduced.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, while ruling out the possibility of floods, claimed that the administration was fully prepared to control the worst situation.

He urged the residents not to panic and call up at the emergency phone numbers in case of emergency.

Meanwhile, villagers have been told to put up ‘thikri pehra’ alongside the bund round the clock. They have been provided with the emergency numbers and directed to inform the police as well as the administration immediately in need of the emergency.



Power supply position to remain critical
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 14
Despite heavy rain during the past two days in the catchment areas of the hydroelectricity generation plants, the power supply position in the region is going to be critical during the next six months. The widespread rain in the hilly areas has not helped in achieving the desired level of water in the reservoirs of the Bhakhra power complex and the Pong Dam and the level of water in the two is far below the optimum level.

According to official information available today, the water level in the reservoir of the Bhakhra power complex was reported at 1,653.09 feet on September 13 against that of 1,649.07 feet last year. The water level in the Pong dam reservoir was 1,333 feet against that of 1,373 feet last year which was 40 feet below the level recorded last year. The optimum filling level of the Bhakhra reservoir is 1,680 feet while that of the Pong Dam is 1,390 feet.

With the present level of inflow in the two reservoirs, the optimum level of filling is not at all possible to be achieved as the monsoon will start withdrawing from September 20. 



Badal asks partymen to unite
Our Correspondent

Doraha, September 14
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab and President of the SAD(B), today called upon his partymen to be united and fight factionalism as “this was the reason that had created circumstances for the Badal government to loose in the Assembly election” .

Mr Badal was addressing partymen at a meeting convened in Payal today to exhort Akali workers to reach Chhapar on the occasion of a mela scheduled on September 21 and ‘‘present a show of strength’’ in the mela that has evolved over the years as an all-party conference.

Criticising the present government, he said time had come when people were realising that they had ‘‘given their mandate in favour of the wrong party’’. He also criticised the media for playing a negative role in the election process. ‘‘We would have won but for the negative role played by the media. In many opinion polls it was predicted that not more than 20 seats shall be won by the SAD(B) and the BJP and that the congress shall emerge the winner with a total of 90 seats. The prediction proved fatal for our party, as it changed the public opinion in the negative and we were forced to face defeat.

Commenting on the “Confrontation policy adopted by the government”, he said, “by pursuing false cases against Akali leaders and workers, Capt Amarinder Singh is befooling himself.

Mr Badal criticised the government for withdrawal of shagun scheme, old-age pensions, rolling back of free electric supply to farmers, cuts imposed on the salaries of employees, increase in diesel rates, imposition of taxes on fertilisers and pesticides and claimed that all these steps were leading the Congress towards its doom.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA, Kila Raipur, said the Chhapar conference shall prove to be a historic one for the SAD (B) as we all shall make it a grand success.



Poor man’s appeal for his child
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 14
Eleven-year-old Dhanpat Ram is suffering from ventricular septal defect and pulmonary artery hypertension and needs an immediate open-heart surgery.

Maya Ram, father of the child, is a washerman and earns about Rs 2,000 per month. He has huge family to feed. Among his six children, Dhanpat Ram is the eldest. “My wife also works but she gets only Rs 500 a month”, said Maya Ram “Dhanpat used to have continuous fever for almost six months. I thought it to be some mild infection but when I got him admitted to Trehan Hospital here, the doctor told me about his actual position. I was shocked to hear this. How could an 11-year-old suffer from such a deadly disease?” asked Maya Ram.

Though appropriate treatment was given to the patient but Dr Dinesh Trehan advised Maya Ram to go for a corrective surgery of the child.

Since Maya Ram was unable to bear the expenses of an open-heart surgery, Dr Trehan suggested him to go to the Acharya Shri Chander College of Medical Sciences and Hospital, Jammu, where Dr Rakesh Soodan agreed to perform the surgery on the child at a concessional rate.

“But this minimum projected expenditure for the same is around Rs 1 lakh, as the defect is big. I will not be able to collect such a huge amount from all my resources. But I do not want to lose my child at the same time. I believe in God, who can not be so unkind to us,’ said Maya Ram.

It may be mentioned that Maya Ram, was also operated upon a few years back when his intestines burst because of typhoid ulcer. “At that time also, I had to spend a lot of money. I am a weak man now, even if I make sincere efforts, I cannot collect such a huge amount”, said Maya Ram.

Dr Trehan, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune said the child without the operation, would not survive for long. “He needs an immediate heart surgery, “ Dr Trehan said.



Club for awareness about ‘Italian Line of Credit’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 14
The local Knitwear Club, a conglomerate of different hosiery and knitting industries, has underlined the need for creating awareness about the “Italian Line of Credit”, which it says is a beneficial facility available to the industry for importing machinery from Italy.

In a memorandum submitted to Mr Rajeev Bhatnagar, Chairman of the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), here today, a delegation of the Knitwear Club led by its president, Mr Vinod Thapar, said to create awareness about this scheme an official with full knowledge of the facility should be appointed at Ludhiana to have regular interaction with the members and the information about the available machinery and its suppliers could be made available to the industry.

However, the memorandum added that there were certain gaps which needed to be plugged so that the whole industry took the benefit. It also stressed upon the need to shorten the time period for principle approval. This procedural time as of now is more than three months and till the time machinery comes to the manufacturer, productivity loss already takes place.

The memorandum also suggested that in order to study the potential of demand for Ludhiana knitwear products in the world market, it was important to get market studies done. The Ludhiana hosiery, it said, needed to be established as a brand in the mind of international consumers and the NSIC could be instrumental in conducting these studies which could then be used by the manufacturers.

It also suggested conducting of “exposure visits” to nations which are performing better than India in the global market, as this can help the exporters to know the areas which need to be improved upon and Italy and China can be such countries.

The Knitwear Club also reiterated its demand of setting up the integrated park for exports, which has been approved for Ludhiana. It said: “We want this park to be of international standards. Under various infrastructure schemes with the NSIC, it should provide the industry with the best of technological know-how and assistance in every possible manner”.

Mr Bhatnagar assured the Knitwear Club that most of the demands were accepted at the earliest. He was here on a two-day tour to study the business environment, particularly in reference to the small-scale industries.



Udyog Rattan award
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 14
M/s August Industries has been awarded the Udyog Rattan award by the Institute of Economic Studies for its outstanding achievement in the export of engineering goods. The award was presented to its sole proprietor, Mr Rajeev Nanchahal, in New Delhi recently. Mr Nanchahal (31) is probably one of the youngest entrepreneurs to have received this award.

August Industries was started as a small venture in the export of engineering goods in May 1998 under the leadership of Mr Rajeev Nanchahal. With a vision to building relationship and enhancing global mutual trust, the company started export in November 1998. From just one country, Argentina, the company has spread its markets in the USA, UK, France, Italy and Australia. 


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