Tuesday, October 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Security beefed up for Dasehra
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 14
Following the receipt of Intelligence reports cautioning of a sabotage threat on Dasehra, the police today formed a security cover around Ramlila pandals, Dasehra grounds, religious places and other sensitive spots in the city.

Special nakas have been set up on the main entry points to the city and an anti-sabotage team of the police conducted a search of the Dasehra grounds. Arrangements have also been made to frisk each visitor to the grounds.

Effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkarna and Mehgnadha have also been searched for any explosive device and dog squads pressed into service.

Police sources revealed that the Intelligence Department had written to all SSPs in the state, alerting them against possible strikes by militant organisations on Dasehra. The sources added that though such warning letters were a routine affair before any important festival or function, the police was not taking any chances.

Senior police officers including SSP H.S. Sidhu, SP (city-I) Harish Kumar and SP (city-II) Naunihal Singh, inspected the security arrangements. The entire police force in the city had been put on a maximum alert and officers supervised search operations and also inspected security arrangements at Dasehra grounds.

The police sources disclosed that there was fear of a strike by some Jammu-Kashmir based militant outfits. With the one elections conducted successfully in the trouble torn state, militants were frustrated and could plan sabotage activities in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Police arrangements have been made to check any such daring move.

Besides religious places and Dasehra grounds, the police has also beefed up security at the railway station, the local bus stand and other crowded areas. Check posts have been set up at various entry points of the city. Vehicles coming to the city are also being checked.

The police has also set up metal detectors at the gates of several Dasehra grounds in the city and police personnel were alerting people against touching any unclaimed items.



Shoppers add fire to traffic hell
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 14
The increased rush of Divali shoppers has worsened the traffic situation and traffic jams at peak hours have become common here. The work on elevated road on the Old GT Road between Jagraon Bridge and Chand Cinema and the construction of flyovers at Dhuri railway crossing and Lakkar Pul, besides indiscriminate digging of roads by telecom companies, have added to the misery of road users.

The stretch of the Old GT Road from Old Sabzi Mandi to railway station and Kailash Cinema Chowk to Deepak Cinema, a link between old city and Civil Lines, Ghumar Mandi and Mall Road, witnesses heavy traffic all day. There are hardly any parking lots and there are roads that you can’t cross even on foot.

It seems that the Municipal Corporation and the traffic police have washed their hands off the problem, perhaps, due to its enormity. The city administration has always been neglecting traffic management. The MC, reportedly, hired an expensive traffic adviser on contract for over two years, but , it seems that he, too, gave up, seeing the pathetic state of traffic on the city roads.

The city with more than 15 lakh citizens and a huge number of vehicles on roads does not even have an apology of the basic infrastructure for traffic management. The condition of roads, especially those in major commercial centres, is bad. Potholes and crude patchwork on these roads make travelling a nightmare even for pedestrians. The agreement between the civic body and telecom giants notwithstanding, the dug up roads and streets in commercial and residential areas are either not repaired for weeks together or repaired poorly.

Traffic lights on major crossings and enforcement of traffic rules there is no better. Several traffic lights here are either non-functional or having no monitoring traffic policemen. In emergency situations like power failure at the traffic lights, there is no policeman to control traffic there. There have been several instances of prolonged traffic jams at busiest crossings due to the failure of traffic lights.

The problem of traffic management here is complex and gigantic, needing both will and determination on part of the administration to show results. Temporary and half-hearted measures will not solve anything.



Murder: police fails to record statement
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 14
Even as the infamous BRS Nagar couple death case is likely to remain a mystery following the sudden death of Manroop Singh yesterday, who was probably the only key to the solution of the case, the city police, accused of harassing him, is all set to face another embarrassment.

In yet another shocking twist to the case, it has now come up that the police in its zeal to question the deceased Manroop Singh for his alleged involvement in the murder case of his wife, did not even record his statement under Section 161, CrPc.

Informed police sources said the police questioned him but no statement was recorded on paper. There had been, in fact, quite a hustle bustle in the police investigating team since yesterday after the death of Manroop Singh. Sources said efforts were on to produce some recorded statement in back date to escape further embarrassment.

The statement of Manroop Singh was significant in the case. He was the only witness to the alleged murder of his wife, Sandeep Kaur, that occurred in house 36-B, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, on October 5. Some unidentified persons allegedly forced her to inhale some strong sedative that caused her death, while Manroop Singh was left unconscious.

Even though he was the only witness to the alleged incident, his statement was not recorded. His version about the sequence of events was taken a couple of times but nothing was put on paper.

The police continues to stick to its stand that Manroop Singh was a suspect and his questioning was necessary regarding the October 5 robbery and murder of his wife at their residence. The family also maintains its allegation that Manroop Singh ended his life because of ‘‘undue” police harassment.

Mr Harish Kumar, SP, only commented that the police was questioning him as it suspected his involvement in the crime. He said he had no information about the recording or not recording of the statement. He refused to comment more saying he was busy in making security arrangements for Dashera.

Reliable police sources said one reason for not recording Manroop Singh's statement could be that the police was almost convinced about his involvement in alleged murder-cum-robbery incident at his house on October 5. They said police had in fact decided to wait for a few days to grill Manroop Singh further.



Special Olympics torch in city
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 14
The torch of 5th Olympics for Students with Special Needs being organised all over Punjab reached the main market of Sarabha Nagar this afternoon.

The games are being organised by the Special Olympics Bharat, Punjab Chapter. “The idea to carry the torch throughout the state and hold these games is to make the general people aware that many children with mild to moderate retardation and even with lower abilities are like other children. They are there and can perform tasks within their abilities,” said Dr N.S. Sodhi, Chairman Navjivani School, Patiala, who brought the torch from Patiala. The torch would be carried to Jalandhar and then back to Patiala.

Two members of the Social Action Group that founded Ek Prayaas, a school for mentally challanged, Ms Samira Bector and Ms Radhika Jetwani, along with Mr Ashok Arora, chairman of the Ludhiana chapter, organised a function for children of Ek Prayaas and Nirdosh, another school for mentally challenged children being run by members of the Inner Wheel. The beaming faces of the children of lesser God showed how excited they were.

Mr Surat Singh, Principal of Nirdosh, said students had won many medals in the last games. “This year we are hopeful of winning more medals in the Olympics to be held in Amritsar on November 9 and 10. We are taking 25 students for cycling, badminton and athletics events.”

Ms Samira Bector said, “A team of 10 students from Ek Prayaas would be participating in the games. Last year, parents were a little apprehensive of sending their children, but after noticing their joy and good care given to them by teachers, Mr Brijesh and Mr Amarjit, they are more than willing to send their children this year.”

Ms Radhika Jetwani said 2,500 students from different states would take part in the games. The winners of different states would participate in the National Olympiad to be held next year. Parents, staff members of both schools and members of the Inner Wheel Club were present at the function.



Cracker hopes go bust
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, October 14
Once bitten, twice shy — firecracker dealers of this town have decided to debunk the Divali season business this year. Stung by the reverses of last year, merchants of Main Bazar and elsewhere here have decided to no more buy or sell firecrackers.

A meeting was held recently on this issue between a delegation of traders and the police authorities. The traders were asked to obtain licences from the Deputy Commissioner under the relevant Acts for selling firecrackers. However, no trader has, so far, applied for the licence due to the experience of last year. Shops selling firecrackers were raided last year and traders not raided also had to dole out money. Cases were registered against two traders. The traders say that, even if licences are obtained, the police, taxmen and the other officials will not cease to exploit them.

The traders’ stand has left octroi contractors worried, as they stand to lose heavily because of it. Octroi at 2 per cent of the bill amount is big money. A trader said the town’s firecracker business was more than Rs 2 crore in volume. Octroi contractors are trying to persuade traders to rethink and even offering to mediate in talks with the police.



SAD youth wing warns Congress
SSF dares Amarinder to arrest Badal
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, October 14
The All-India Youth Wing Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) today warned the Congress government in the state against any attempt to arrest a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on “false and fabricated charges” and said that the SAD and its youth wing would not take such “brazen political vendetta” lying down.

Addressing a meeting of party activists here, Mr Jatinder Pal Singh Saluja, general secretary of the youth wing said the government, having failed on all fronts during its governance of just around six months, was trying to divert public attention by hounding its political opponents on trumped-up charges. “By resorting to harassment and police action against senior functionaries of the SAD, the BJP and members of the SGPC, the Congress is setting bad precedents which can have serious repercussions in time to come,” he said.

Other speakers at the meeting alleged that the government had scrapped most of welfare schemes, including pensions for senior citizens and widows. Free power to farmers had practically been withdrawn, octroi had been reimposed and allowances of employees were being denied. As a result all sections of society were feeling disenchanted and frustrated and the falling popularity graph of the government had forced it to seek desperate measures to shift public attention, they said. “The youth wing, led by its president Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, will give a befitting reply to the Congress government if it dared to take any step against Mr Badal,” they said.

Prominent among those present in the meeting were Mr Sukhjinder Singh Jaura, Mr Harjinder Singh Laati, both vice-presidents, Mr Jaspal Singh Sandhu, general secretary, Mr Kulwant Singh Ranike, Mr Navneet Bhandari, both press secretaries, Mr Kirpal Singh Arora, Mr Jatinder Singh Tinku, Mr Tejinderpal Singh Shunty, Mr Sarbjit Singh Chhapa, Mr Ikbal Singh, Mr Ram Singh Bhandari, Mr Ikbal Singh Gill, Mr Damandeep Singh Saluja, Mr Inderjit Singh Makkar, Mr Taranjit Singh Bindra, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Dua and Mr Inder Mohan Singh Kadian.

Meanwhile, the president of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF), Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, yesterday said the federation would oppose any move of the Punjab Government to arrest Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Addressing mediapersons here, Mr Grewal said the repeated statements by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, about arresting Mr Badal on corruption charges smacked of “political vindictiveness”. He warned that if the state government arrested Mr Badal, all activists of the SSF and the Shiromani Akali Dal would come out on streets.

He said: “The Chief Minister could not keep Mr Badal behind bars for even an hour. If he does so he would be exposed,” adding that the Chief Minister was resorting to such means to benefit the Congress in the SGPC elections scheduled for November.

Mr Grewal added if the government wanted to eradicate corruption, it should set up special court where even a common man could lodge a complaint. The complaint should be taken up seriously and anybody found to be corrupt prosecuted, he said.

He alleged that Congress leaders were not free from corruption and the Chief Minister should gun for his own men as well. He added that the SSF would soon organise a conference to fight “anti-Akali” policies of the Chief Minister.



PSEB bill for 1.15 lakh quashed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 14
Non-compliance of rules by the authorities concerned have proved dearly for the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) when the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum quashed the electricity bill for Rs 1,15,057 issued to a consumer on the charge of theft of power. The forum also directed the PSEB to restore the power connection to the complainant.

According to the complainant, Mr Gurwariam Singh of New Shastri Nagar, Ludhiana, his electric meter was removed by PSEB officials. After lapse of about five months, he received a bill for Rs 1,15,057 vide letter dated 30.10.2001 on the allegation of theft power.

The complainant contended that the allegation levelled against him was altogether false. He never committed any theft of power. As he was not able to make the payment, his electricity connection was disconnected. It was also averred that meter was taken in unpacked condition from the premises and he was never invited at the time of inspection of meter in the ME lab.

The opposite party in its reply said that the complaint was not maintainable since there was no deficiency in services by the PSEB. The PSEB said when the meter of consumer was checked in the ME lab, one ME seal was found missing and others were tampered with, turns of the current coil were cut and the meter was recording 81 per cent less energy.

Keeping in view the report of the ME lab, the account of consumer was overhauled and demand was rightly raised.

Mr Hardial Singh, president, Mr T.R. Arora, member of the forum, observed after appreciating the evidence on record and contentions raised by both the parties that the demand was not sustainable and liable to be quashed. The judgement says, “To prove the theft the opposite party has produced the report of the ME lab, in which it is mentioned that the meter was unpacked when received in the ME lab though as per rules it should have been properly packed at the time of removal.”

Moreover, the PSEB failed to prove that any notice was given to the consumer, regarding the time of checking of meter in the ME lab. As per rules, it was mandatary to serve notice. Ultimately, the forum quashed the bill. However, no compensation and costs were awarded to the consumer as disputed demand was quashed on technical reasons.



Poor monsoon in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 14
The Punjab state received 328 mm of rainfall during the monsoon against the normal value of 483 mm. Thus the total rainfall was lower by 32 per cent than the normal.

According to information provided by the Agro-Meteorology Department of Punjab Agricultural University, monsoon arrived in Punjab in August and withdrew on September 20 as against the normal period of arrival and departure in the first week of July and mid- September. During this period, Ludhiana received 36.3 mm, 36.8 mm, 24.5 mm and 193 mm of rainfall during June, July, August and September, respectively, whereas the normal rainfall for these months is 66.4 mm, 232.2 mm, 179.7 mm and 101.8 mm, respectively. As a result during the south-west monsoon season, 2002, Ludhiana received 290.9l mm of rainfall against the normal rainfall of 580 mm for this period. Thus, there was only 50 per cent of the normal rainfall in Ludhiana.



2 proclaimed offenders held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 14
The local police has arrested Chanchal Singh, a resident of Nangali village in Amritsar nearly 19 years after a case of trespassing and theft was registered against him. He was declared a proclaimed offender by the local court on September 29, 1983. In another incident Jarnail Singh, alias Johny, of Kahwa village, has been arrested under the NDPS Act. He, too, was declared a proclaimed offender by court on March 26, 1990.

Pherurai’s kin remanded: Mr H.S. Grewal, Judicial Magistrate (Class I), Jagraon, today remanded Gurmail Singh, brother of Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, a formers SSP of Ferozepore, in police custody for two days. The court granted the counsel for the accused permission, on an application, to see Gurmail daily for two hours either before 8 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Permission was also granted to the counsel to talk to the accused in private.


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