Sunday, October 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Robbers strike in BRS Nagar, kill one, loot jewellery
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 5
At least three robbers, armed with rods and a strong sedative, struck at a house in Block-D of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, murdered a middle-aged woman, injured her husband and decamped with jewellery and cash worth thousands of rupees early this morning.

The deceased has been identified as Sandeep Kaur. Her husband Manroop Singh, a builder and a farmer by profession, was also beaten by the robbers and left unconscious.

He is presently convalescing at a city hospital. The couple’s 8-year-old daughter, who was the only other person present in the house, escaped unhurt as she was sleeping soundly in an inner room.

The police said as per the fingerprints found from the spot, the robbers were at least three in number. Though the modus operandi of the robbery seemed to suggest that it was the handiwork of some gang of migrant labourers, Manroop’s Singh statement to his father before falling unconscious that they were talking in Punjabi has left the police perplexed about their identity.

Informed sources revealed that the police was also seriously investigating the possibility that the incident can be something else than robbery. The fact that the robbers only searched one almirah in the house lends credence to this theory.

On the other hand, the police was also suspecting that some servant or former labourer, who had worked in the house, could also be behind the incident. Several labourers had worked in the house recently when it was being whitewashed.

According to Mr Dalbir Singh, father of Manroop Singh, the gruesome incident took place at about 3:30 a.m. today. His son had narrated him the sequence of events when he was partially conscious at about 4:30 a.m.

He said his son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter Sanreet, who studies in UKG at Sacred Heart Convent School, lived in house no. 36-D Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar. They were sleeping when the doorbell rang at an unusual hour. When Manroop Singh opened the door, two persons pounced on him while shouting to another person to handle his wife.

Manroop Singh resisted a lot but was intoxicated by the strong sedative. He somehow managed to make a telephone call to his father, Dalbir Singh, who lived nearby and was the first to reach the crime site. Dalbir Singh said he fired two shots in air before entering the house.

The police said the robbers first broke the wire mesh of the windows and tried to open the doors but were unsuccessful. They then used the ploy to ring the doorbell. The police said there was no other injury mark on the deceased woman’s body. It seemed she was given high dose of the sedative.

The house was quite large and well furnished. The robbers searched one almirah only and took away gold jewellery and some cash stacked in it. It seems they had definite knowledge that the valuables were kept there.

Senior police officers, including SP (D) Gurpreet Singh and DSP R.S. Parmar, spent several hours inspecting the crime site in the ill-fated house. They said the exact loss of amount could be known only after Manroop Singh gained complete consciousness.

Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the house early morning only when relatives and friends reached the site after learning the news.



Laxmi Ladies Club faces threat of eviction
MC slaps Rs 52.86 lakh as damages for unauthorised use of land
Kuldip Bhatia & Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, October 5
The elite ladies club in the city, Laxmi Ladies Club, charged with unlawful and forcible possession of around 3,000 sq yards of government land, adjoining the official residence of the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, in the posh area of Rakh Bagh in the city, is facing the threat of eviction. Further, the municipal corporation, which claimed that the ownership of the said land vested with it under relevant laws, has slapped a demand of Rs 52.86 lakh, being the damages for unauthorised use of land.

In a suit filed before the Subdivisional Magistrate-cum-Collector under the Punjab Public Premises Act 1973, the municipal corporation has prayed for eviction of the respondents from the land in dispute, which was the property of the MC according to ‘jamabandi’ for the year 1995-96 and issuance of process for recovery of a sum of Rs 53,46,148 as damages for use and occupation of the land.

In its petition, the MC maintained that the club was neither the lessee nor licensee and it had never been permitted by the civic body to use this land. The MC Commissioner, vide his orders issued on October 10, 2000, had declared the respondent as an unauthorised occupant of the land under dispute, which was a public property. The MC further said the land was duly entered in the immovable property register maintained under Section 169 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976.

Charging the respondent club with unlawfully occupying the municipal land, the MC said in the petition that the club had not paid any damages for the use of the property. “As such, the MC is also entitled to receive Rs 1,46,838 per month for a minimum period of previous three years and future unauthorised use till actual delivery of vacant possession of the premises.” The amount of damages, said the petition, had been determined and assessed as per rules. Sources in the MC revealed that the relevant revenue records, showing ownership of the land in dispute in the name of the MC, had been placed on record before the court.



They come home rich in experiences
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 5
It was a lifetime experience for at least 180 employees of Ludhiana district who had gone on poll duty in the trouble-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir. Even though they lived under the shadow of death for 12 days, they were mesmerised by the beauty of the valley.

They have come back home rich in friends and experiences. Ever since they have returned from the ‘heaven on earth’, they have been e talking about their experiences to their families and relatives who had given them a heroic welcome. Although they alleged that arrangements made by the J&K government for their stay were inadequate, all of them were willing to go there again if the nation needed them.

‘‘We are quite excited after this adventurous trip as our time passed peacefully. Although we were not allowed to move out of our camps due to security reasons and we virtually lived under the shadow of fear, the feeling that we were of some help in restoration of democratic process in the state kept us going,’’ said one of the volunteers, Dr Pushproop Singh Brar, a veterinarian.

He said that scare had gripped almost all employees during the second phase of elections when they were deployed in Bilawal area of Kathua where militants had killed people on the day of polling. ‘‘We knew that there could be any mishap at the polling booth. The CRPF personnel on duty told us to be vigilant and move only in groups as we could prove to be the softest targets.’’

Mr Vijay Kumar Rishi, another employee, said the trip was like a God’s gift for him. ‘‘I was not scared of anything. Death has to come wherever you are. So why be scared of it? I did not regret going there and enjoyed the nature at its best,’’ he said adding that they were made to stay in RS Pura and Bilawal area during the second round of the first and the second phases of elections.

Similar views were expressed by Mr Jagdev Singh, an employee in Payal, who said they enjoyed their 12-day stay by playing cards, cricket, volleyball and other games with the CRPF personnel. Some of them even sang songs or recited some couplets of poetry. ‘‘We had a nice time together and were living like one family. It was like one unit as all employees looked after each other well. Even while travelling, we allowed the buses move only after we ensured that nobody was left. It definitely was a new found feeling of brotherhood that was into display during the trip. Nobody had any problem with anybody. And we passed the difficult time very happily.’’

‘‘We all are friends now. Our circle has increased and the trip has once again made us realised that we are loved so much by our families. Our family members back home remained glued to TV sets all these days and eagerly awaited for our phone calls. We thank the administration for giving us this opportunity. It has been a nice experience,’’ said Mr Kehar Singh, an ayurvedic pharmacist.

However, the employees were quite disappointed with the J&K government, who, according to them, did not make adequate arrangements for their stay. They were not provided any bedding and had to sleep on the floor. Some of them were even asked to sleep on the grass in the tents. They said timely intervention by the Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner provided respite to them after which they were given accommodation in schools.

‘‘Had it not been for the DC’s call to the Election Commissioner, we would have been forced to sleep in the open, where there was a threat of militant strikes. Although we were told by the Ludhiana administration not to carry our bedding, the officials there said they had no arrangements for the same. At times they told us to depend on the police which in turn said that they had no funds to provide any help. The personnel of the CRPF came to our rescue who provided us with the food. Otherwise, it could have been a great problem for us.’’ said many employees.



MC staff remove encroachments
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 5
More than 50 jhuggis and other temporary structures near Haibowal Dairy Complex on Rajpura Road were removed by the demolition squad of the Municipal Corporation (MC) here today. The team of officials also cleared some other encroachments in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar locality.

The officials of the building branch of the MC, headed by an Assistant Town Planner and accompanied by police force, descended on the spot in the morning and removed several temporary structures.

Thereafter, a cluster of around 50 jhuggis was pulled down after the occupants were told to pick up their belongings and clear the site. The MC had carried out a similar drive at the same place last year, but the civic land had again come under unlawful occupation.

While quite a few occupants removed their belongings, others ran away in panic. However, they were escorted to the respective places where their jhuggis were located and were permitted to take away the household articles.

Later, the MC demolition squad proceeded to Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar where a toilet set, constructed on the road side, was razed to ground. 



Tension in Sunet over demolition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 5
Tension gripped Sunet village adjoining Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar this evening after a team of the Municipal Corporation along with some activists of a local Tarksheel Society demolished some rooms and a religious place constructed illegally on an encroached land.

One group of residents was in favour of the demolition while another one was against it. The anti-group, angry at the demolition, attacked the house of a Tarksheel Society leader, Jaswant Singh Zirakh, in Sunet and damaged it. The leader called the Sarabha Nagar police for help but was surprisingly arrested by the police on the charges of demolishing the alleged illegal structure.

His arrest angered the pro-demolition group of Sunet residents, who staged a dharna outside the Sarabha Nagar police station, demanding immediate release of their leader.

The trouble began after a demolition squad of the MC descended over the alleged encroachment of government land in Sunet village after razing down illegal structures in several parts of the city early today.

The police was keeping a studied silence on the issue. 



Octroi employees harass people
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, October 5
Harassment of the general public at the hands of staff employed by octroi contractors is going on unabated ever since the privatisation of octroi collection by the municipal council around two months ago.

The contractor-employed staff created a scene at the bus stand octroi post today when a town resident was intercepted and asked to disclose the contents of his bag which contained some official papers and a tiffin-box. When he told them that there was nothing objectionable in his bag and that he had not got down from any bus, the employee said he had seen him alighting from a bus. When the man refused to open his bag for inspection, he was threatened with police action. It was only after the intervention of neighbouring shopkeepers and another octroi employee that the matter was settled.

Investigations by this correspondent revealed that even girls carrying hand bags were being intercepted and asked to disclose the contents therein. Suitcases of families visiting the town were also being frisked minutely in the name of checking octroi evasion.

Not only the bus passengers alighting at the bus stand but also those entering the town in personal cars are being subjected to unnecessary scrutiny by the contractors' employees. Several complaints have been lodged orally by the harassed residents with the contractors, who assert that they were entitled to do so in view of the huge contract amount.



Two held for defying DM’s order
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 5
The police has arrested Resham Singh of Khosa Kotla village as he was harvesting paddy crop during night hours by plying harvester combine in the fields near T Point of Sattowal village in defiance of the orders promulgated by the District Magistrate restricting harvesting from 7pm to 8 am. The police has registered a case under Sections 188 of the IPC against the accused.

In another incident, the police has arrested Sukhwinder Singh of Bopa Rai near Jhordan village for the same offence and registered a separate case.


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