Sunday, November 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Four undertrials escape
Row over ‘identity’ of police team
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

The controversy comes close on the heels of the mysterious disappearance for several hours of former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai. He had also gone missing and the official explanation was that the tyre of a car in which he was being brought had flattened causing the delay.

Ludhiana, November 9
While four undertrials escaped in a daring fashion from the custody of a police team outside the Central Jail in Ludhiana late last evening, a controversy has erupted over the identity of the police team accompanying the undertrials.

Al though officials of the Central Jail and the Division No. 7 police station here maintain that the four undertrials, belonging to Kale Kachhewale gang of robbers, were in the custody of the Gurdaspur police at the time of the escape, the police authorities of Gurdaspur district maintain that no police team from that district had gone to Ludhiana to bring the undertrials for producing them in a district court in connection with a case.

SSP (Gurdaspur) Varinder Kumar expressed surprise over a query by TNS over the progress in the case and said no team from his district had gone to the Ludhiana Central Jail. Later after checking up again, he confirmed his information, “It is definitely a big incident and I ought to know about if it has happened. But no team from Gurdaspur had gone to Ludhiana ,” he asserted.

However, according to an FIR registered at Division No 7 police station here on the complaint of Head Constable Satwinder Singh of Police Lines Gurdaspur, he along with some other policemen of Gurdaspur had taken the undertrials from Central Jail here to Gurdaspur and had returned last evening. Just near the Central Jail, the four undertrials allegedly threw chilly powder at the policemen and escaped.

Mr G.S. Sidhu, Superintendent (Jails), also confirmed that the police team was from Gurdaspur as per the papers presented to them by the team. Jail sources said undertrials are allowed to leave only after the police team submits proper production warrants or court summons. They said everything is recorded in the jail registers and there was no mistake that the police team was from Gurdaspur.

The four undertrials have been identified as Salim, Fonga, Rehmat and Raja, alias Rajan. Unconfirmed reports said of these, Raja has been nabbed but the local police was yet to announce it officially. The accused belonged to the dreaded Kale-Kachhewale gang. It was wanted in more than a dozen cases of robbery and murder.

The controversy comes close on the heels of the mysterious disappearance for several hours of former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai. He had also gone missing and the official explanation was that the tyre of a car in which he was being brought had flattened causing the delay.



Cash-surplus MC gets higher credit rating
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 9
Claims of the civic administration of having turned the corner through better financial management and several austerity measures received a shot in the arm when a national-level credit rating agency — ICRA Limited recently upgraded the credit rating of the Municipal Corporation from LA minus (SO) to LA(SO) in the wake of its sound financial position.

According to the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, the civic body had raised a loan of Rs 17.80 crore in the shape of redeemable bonds in 1999 to meet the cost of a project of the O and M wing, which is entrusted with the responsibility of providing water supply and sewerage facility to the city.

Since credit rating of any institution raising loan from the capital market is necessary, the Municipal Corporation had secured a healthy credit rating from ICRA at that time. It was also stipulated that credit rating granted to the Municipal Corporation would remain under the surveillance of the rating agency till the period that loan raised from public was repaid. However, the credit rating of the civic body was downgraded in the year 2001-2002 in the wake of dwindling financial position and huge liabilities at the close of the financial year.

To revive the financial health and provide improved level of civic services, the present MC administration has initiated several measures to step up collections from octroi, house tax, user charges, composition fee of building challans and other arrears. Simultaneously, steps have been taken to slash wasteful expenditure and bring austerity without compromising quality of works and services so as to fill the yawning gap between the income and expenditure. The determined action in this direction have paid dividends and the MC is able to liquidate almost all of its huge liabilities.

The upgradation of the credit rating by ICRA Ltd is a clear pointer that the financial position of the MC is sound and institutional funds given to the civic body by way of loans are safe with guarantee of repayment. A higher credit rating made it relatively easier for any institution to raise the needed funds from the market.

However, Mr Sharma observed that the MC administration had decided not to raise any loan for development works, for the time being that is, in the face of adequate funds being available for this purpose. “We shall rather strive to further improve out revenue collection to fulfill the commitment of providing core civic services and strengthen infrastructural facilities to the city population.”



Kidnapping case takes new turn
Rs 25 lakh ransom demanded
Tribune News Service.

Ludhiana, November 9
The two-week-old mysterious disappearance case of a nine-year-old son of a trader in New Friends Colony near Sherpur Chowk here has taken a new turn with fresh reports stating that the child was kidnapped and Rs 25 lakh ransom money demanded for his release.

Honey, son of Mr Umesh Kumar, owner of a sanitary and karyana shop in Fauji Colony near his house, had gone missing on October 29 late evening. The family suspected the involvement of a former tenant, Manarakh Choudhry, who had a fight with it over some issue with the family a few days before the alleged kidnapping incident. The police had registered a case against the suspect but investigations so far had revealed that he was not involved.

Meanwhile, the family started receiving calls for ransom money from some unidentified callers, which sent the focal point police in a tizzy. The police and family sources said that for the past over one week, several ransom calls had been received but the alleged kidnappers had so far not disclosed the time and place where the ransom amount should be delivered.

Family sources said the case was kept under wraps all these days considering the sensitivity of the situation as there was a threat to the life of the child. However, the family after waiting for police success flashed the pictures of the child on the local cable TV network. The case gained momentum yesterday evening when the police picked up a youth, Vicky, from Kalyan Nagar yesterday in connection with the case.

The police hopes of success in the case, however, dashed to the ground after the youth’s interrogation. The youth admitted that he had made a call at the victim family’s house demanding ransom amount. However, the youth, despite stringent questioning, maintained that he had seen the child’s missing advertisement on the cable network and just played a prank on the family. The police said that though the youth had already paid dearly for the prank, it was detaining him for further questioning.

Talking to TNS today, Mr Ramdhan, a relative of the victim’s family, said that on the fateful evening, Honey had gone to his house from the shop but never reached his house. The family searched him at several places but his whereabouts remained unknown. Two days later, the family received the first ransom call.



Unique housing project launched
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 9
In a concerted effort to ease the acute scarcity of housing for the economically weaker sections of society in general and industrial workers in particular, the Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) has launched an ambitious housing project in the city, which will come up in the next two months.

Giving details of the project, which was formally announced on November 1 when Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was in town, the Administrator of LIT, Mr Raminder Singh, told Ludhiana Tribune that separate blocks of three-storeyed flats for economically weaker sections (EWS) and low income groups (LIG) would be constructed on a 10-acre piece of land in Loha Mandi, near Dhandari Kalan, which the trust recently purchased from the Municipal Corporation for the purpose.

About 400 EWS and LIG flats, to be offered exclusively to industrial workers without any income criterion through draw of lots under the self-financing and partially self-financing scheme, will be self-contained dwelling units with all amenities and good surroundings. The buyers will have to pay 25 per cent of the tentative cost on allotment with the option of paying the balance 75 per cent in five half-yearly instalments without interest or 10 half-yearly instalments, out of which the last five would bear interest.

According to Mr Raminder Singh, the 226 EWS flats, would be available at a cost ranging from Rs 1.40 lakh to Rs 1.60 lakh, depending upon the number of the floor. With a built-up area of 320 sq ft, these flats would have one bedroom, kitchen, bath, W/C and courtyard on the ground floor and terrace on other floors. The LIG flats (168) would be spread over a built-up area of 500 sq ft and have one additional room, besides all other features of EWS flats. These would bear a price tag of Rs 2.60 lakh on the ground floor while those on the first and second floors would be available at Rs 2.50 lakh and Rs 2.40 lakh, respectively.



Illegal constructions face axe
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
Sword of damocles is all set to fall on fresh construction in Kullewal village, where various residential colonies had mushroomed on 100 acres of land that originally belonged to the provincial government. The action comes after an investigation of over two years, which termed the encroachment as ‘mother of all scandals’. The government land was allegedly sold several times.

Sources in the district administration said while the fate of all houses would be decided at the government level, the district administration has ordered the razing of all fresh constructions undertaken after a two-month-old ban on such activity promulgated by the District Magistrate. The sources said owners of several plots had constructed boundary walls it in violation of the DM’s orders. Some owners of existing houses had also extended the houses or constructed boundary walls.

The demolition drive was supposed to be launched today but due to the non-availability of police force to provide security to the demolition team the drive had to be postponed. A team consisting of some revenue officials had arrived at the colony in the morning but returned due to the non-availability of the police squad.

The Kullewal land scandal is one of the biggest ever scam in the district where around 100 acres of land originally belonging to the provincial government was sold off by private persons allegedly in connivance with some revenue officials. Surprisingly the land was shown as agricultural land in revenue records while many residential colonies had mushroomed in the area.

The Tribune had reported the scam a number of times but no serious action was taken by the administration except booking some defaulters. Even the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal had intervened and directed the former Deputy Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the scam.

Administrative sources told Ludhiana Tribune that the Deputy Commissioner had written to the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation and the district police chief for required J.C.B machines and police force respectively.

The latest development comes in the wake of an inquiry report submitted by the SDM last month. The sources said a fresh ban on construction was put by the administration recently only and those people who had raised boundary walls after the ban would have to face the demolition.

The Deputy Commissioner has appointed Tehsildar (East), Mr Ajay Sood as Duty Magistrate of the demolition project.



3 burnt to death near Ludhiana

Ludhiana, November 9
Three persons were burnt alive when their car collided with a cow near Amaltas Tourism Complex on the Jalandhar bypass road here tonight, police sources told PTI.

Two children, who were also in the car, were badly burnt and taken to a local hospital in an unconscious condition, the sources said.

The identity of the deceased was not known as all three bodies were badly burnt, the sources added.

The car was coming towards Ludhiana side from Jalandhar side, eyewitnesses told the police, adding that the car immediately caught fire after colliding with the cow. The car was also so badly burnt that it was not possible even to read the number-plate. PTI



PCC reconstitution soon: Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
The new Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) will be reconstituted in a couple of days as the PCC president, Mr H. S. Hanspal, has already submitted his list to the party high command for approval.

Talking to reporters here today, the PCC president said the new PCC will include a good number of youth leaders who have been given important responsibilities. He disclosed that about 25 per cent positions have been allotted to women. Mr Hanspal was here to address a special convention organised by the president of the Vishwakarma Ramgarhia Council of India, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi.

The PCC president justified the government action in making widespread “preventive arrests” in the state. He pointed out that both Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra had made claims and counter claims to gather lakhs of people in Amritsar on November 12, when the elections would be held for the part of SGPC president. He observed, there was possibility of law and order problem and the government had no option but to detain people.

In reply to a question on the controversy over the allegations being levelled against Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and the reported demand of her removal, Mr Hanspal said, she had already clarified her position and the controversy had already been resolved. He regretted that the issue was being blown out of proportion.

Later, while addressing the guests, he lauded the contribution of the Ramgarhia community in the industrial development of the state. Responding to various demands of the industry, Mr Hanspal said, he would put these before the Chief Minister.

Welcoming Mr Hanspal, Mr Birmi assured full support and cooperation of the Ramgarhia Council to the Congress and the Chief Minister in weeding out corruption and providing a clean administration in the state. He hoped that the demands put forward by the industry would be met by the government.



Taste of ‘Firdaus’ in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
The world famous mouth watering Kashmiri cuisine is tickling the palates of Ludhianvis these days. The Park Plaza is organising the Dastarkhan-e-Firdaus, a Kashmiri Food Festival from November 8 to 17. The best of Kashmiri delicacies like gushtaba, yakhni, lahabi kabab and seekh kabab are being served in traditional Kashmiri way. The Kashmiri cuisine coupled with Kashmiri ambience inside the Lodi Ruwayat, the venue of the food festival, make the whole experience unique.

Gulam Mohammad Waza, a special chef from Kashmir has been preparing these delicacies with the assistance of two others who have also come from Kashmir. According to Mr Sudanshu Rajhans, the Chef at the Park Plaza, it was for the first time that such a food festival was being organised with exclusive Kashmiri wazwan (cuisine). Although the wazwan mainly consists of non-vegetarian delicacies, but some vegetarian specialities like “nadru yakhni” (prepared from lotus stem), “tamatar chaman” (cheese tomato), “methi chaman”, “dam alu kanah guchhi” are also there.

Kashmiri cuisine is prepared in different ways. Even Hindus and Muslims prepare the food in different ways. At Park Plaza, it is the Muslim-style cuisine that is being served at the festival. However, there is not much difference in the preparations except that the Muslims add more spices to the dishes.

Some delicacies like “gushtaba”, a big velvet soft mutton roll, which is thoroughly mashed and flavoured with cardamom and cooked on slow fire. The special “tabakh maaz”, fried ribs of lamb, is another worth tasting dishes.

To add to the ambience the waiters too are dressed up in traditional Kashmiri attire — ‘firan’ (a loose gown) and Kashmiri caps. There is the famous kahwa (the Kashmiri green tea flavoured with nuts and saffron) and the “nun-chai” (salt tea with milk and pink colour). 



Phone numbers to begin with ‘2’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 9
Telephone numbers in the city will now begin with the digit “2” which will be prefixed to the existing number. All telephone numbers in Ludhiana tehsil (with 0161 STD code) will be converted to seven digits from six from tomorrow. Other numbers in the district with five digits will also be upgraded to six digits within the next fortnight.

Senior officials of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) said the seven-digit telephone numbers had been introduced for all those places which had 0161 as their STD code. Besides all exchanges in the city, those upgraded to seven digits include Sahnewal, Mulanpur, Humbrah and others.

The officials said under the scheme being introduced nationwide, all telephone numbers across the country will be of 11 digits. It means that anyone dialling an STD number across the country will have to dial 11 digits.

Under this scheme, all numbers in metros like Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai will now have eight-digit local telephone numbers with a three-digit STD code, while in other cities like Ludhiana, with a four-digit STD code, will have seven-digit numbers. Those with a five-digit code will have six-digit local numbers.

In the first phase, the numbers have been upgraded for the 0161 STD code falling within Ludhiana tehsil. For the other codes in the district, 01624 and 01628, the numbers would be upgraded from current five digits to six in last week of this month.

Under this scheme, the Ministry of Telecommunications has provided different levels to different operators. For the BSNL, the level is 2, for the Himachal Futuristics (Connect) it is 5 and for Reliance, the level is 3. It means that all BSNL telephone numbers in Ludhiana will start with 2, those of Connect will start with 5 and Reliance with 3.



Mill surrenders ‘black money’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 9
A rice mill of Moga has surrendered Rs 90 lakh ‘black money’ as a result of a survey undertaken by the Income Tax Department, according to official information.

Officials also carried out surveys of knitwear and fabric group of industries and took into custody several documents. Six teams of the department continued the survey till late in the night.

The officials also raided a shop in the Talab Mandir area for selling crackers without permit. The department has informed the police and sought the registration of a case against the defaulter.


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