Sunday, November 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Eighteen more booked in Kuliewal land scandal
Admn closing in on key players
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
After booking some property dealers who had allegedly sold off government land in the infamous Kuliewal land scandal, the Basti Jodhewal police has booked another 18 persons, including some property dealers of the city, on same charges. Sources in the administration said they were closing in on key players in the scandal. These included several influential persons close to politicians.

With the registration of fresh cases, the number of persons booked in the scandal so far has touched the 40 figure mark. Police sources said fresh cases had been registered on the recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal. He made the recommendations on the basis of an on-the-spot inquiry report made by officials of the district administration.

Reliable sources revealed to Ludhiana Tribune that several more persons were likely to be booked in the scandal, as the land switched hands several times. The main culprits who had been identified were the property dealers who, according to Mr Aggarwal, duped people by selling them the government land.

Police sources said in the latest FIRs, Parminder Singh, Kamaljit Kaur, Raj Rana, Karam Singh and 14 other persons had been booked by the police.

Earlier, the police had registered cases against six persons possessing the land illegally and one trespasser. Among the property dealers who had been booked included Teja Singh and his family members Kamaljit Kaur, Parminder Singh and Makmanjit Kaur. Others were Jagjit Singh, Manjit Singh of Maharaja Property Dealers, Samrala Chowk, Gurnam Singh, Surjit Singh alias Surjit Chand, Sarjit Lal, Jagir Singh, Pritam Singh, Karan Singh, Daleep Singh, Jaswant Singh, Jeet Singh, Prahlad Singh Chadha and Pal Singh. The DC has directed the police to register cases against them.

Unlike the past, the administration had taken the land grabbers head-on in the city. Even though there was political pressure against the move, the district administration refused to buckle under the pressure and continued to free the government land of encroachers or regularise it in such a way that the government earned substantial revenue.

The district administration had also demolished around 100 illegal structures, constructed recently despite the ban imposed by the District Magistrate on any such activity.

The Kuliewal land, which now falls within the purview of the Municipal Corporation Ludhiana is a highly potential residential and commercial area. In the revenue estate of Kuliewal village, there exists 72 acre 4 kanals and 11 marlas of “gair mumkin” land in the ownership of Provincial Government, which now falls in Swatantra Nagar, Puneet Nagar, Baba Jeevan Singh Nagar and Savan Vihar.

Over the years, many people have encroached upon this land and have constructed their houses. Many people have simply constructed the plinth or four walls to assert their possession and in some cases they have constructed a small room with four-inch-thick walls and corrugated sheet within the four walls to reinforce their possession.

He said these encroachments were mainly because of the fraudulent sales agreements done by some of the land grabbers with the poor people in consonance with some of the property dealers.

The modus operandi of these land grabbers involved changing the “girdawri” entries of the government land over the period of time as “nazaiz kabja” (illegal possession). These land grabbers then made use of these entries to make fraudulent transactions with poor people. The government land that had been shown as “nazaiz kabja” was later divided by land grabbers/mafia into plots of various sizes i.e. 25 yards, 50 yards, 100 yards, 200 yards and then over a period of time plinth and boundary walls were constructed around the plots. Finally, an agreement of sale was made with the unsuspecting poor or uneducated people.

Since the uneducated and poor labourers had little or no revenue knowledge, they used to content themselves with seeing the plinth or boundary wall or small room constructed in or around the plot. The payments were made either at the time of agreements or in the form of monthly installments. The goon hired by these land grabbers then collected the installment every month. In case of default, they were beaten up.


SHO’s involvement in land grab case
DC suspends cop, DIG asks him to stay
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
A piquant situation has arisen here over the issue of suspension of SHO, Koomkalan, Dogar Ram by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, in the Bhupana landgrabbing case with the cop continuing in his official position even two days after his suspension was ordered.

According to sources SI Dogar Ram continues in his office because of an assurance by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mohd. Mustafa, that the cop’s case was being taken up with the Deputy Commissioner and till then he can continue functioning as the Station House Officer.

Both the officials were, however, unavailable to comment on the issue.

Sources very close to the cop in question, confirmed to TNS that he had been told to continue in his office by the senior police officer through DSP Sahnewal Paramjit Singh Goraya. These sources claimed that the senior police official had sent a message to the policeman saying that an understanding had been reached with the DC on the issue.

SI Dogar Ram, when pressed for comments on the issue, said he had received the orders but would leave only when told to do so by his seniors. Dogar Ram was in fact, quite upset over the turn of events claiming strongly that he had just obeyed the court orders and it was just because of his tight law and order arrangement that there was no loss of life or an injury in the controversy.

According to sources, the DC had dispatched his suspension orders on November 21. The orders reached KoomKalan police station today and were received by the SHO.

Civil administration sources disclosed that an on the spot inquiry by the administration officials had found substantial evidence of irregularity of duty against the cop.

Sources said one reason of administration’s tough stand against the SHO was that senior administration officials had called him for questioning after they visited the spot three days ago but he did not appear for it as he was busy on an assignment given by the senior officials.


Bhupana land grab case
PHRC records statements of affected families
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Bhupana (Ludhiana), November 23
A team of the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) today recorded the statements of the affected families in the Bhupana land grab case even as senior police officers visited Bhupana and re-examined the documents in possession of the 24 affected families that are said to clearly establish that they were the owners of the land and not lessees, as claimed by the village panchayat. A local court had ordered status quo in the case in April, 2001.

The affected persons are pained by the reported statement of the District Collector that the possession of 120 acres of land will be restored to the village panchayat. “This is being done even though we have all documents to support our claim but the opposite party is allegedly pressurising the district administration to uproot us and hand over the possession of the land to the panchayat, thereby, cutting our lifeline,” lament the villagers.

Elders who have been tilling the land for the past over 20 years said the things were fine till 1997-98, when the panchayat filed a case claiming that they had not paid the lease money and were possessing the land illegally. “We moved the court that modified an earlier order and directed both parties to seek proper remedies from the civil courts in Ludhiana,” they added.

Interestingly, the matter had come up before the SDM-cum-Collector, Ludhiana (East), Ms Bhawna Garg, who in her order, delivered on September 9, 2002, had said: “I have gone through the various judgements placed on record and perused the revenue record. The suit has been filed giving reference to the ‘jamanbandi’ for the year 1997-98, in which the ownership column does not speak in favour of the applicants — the gram panchayat.”

She further noted: “Prima facie, this court is to see if the relationship of the landlord and the tenant is established between the applicant and the respondents. In the given circumstances, this relationship could not be established and, hence, the suit of the plaintiff is not maintainable as on today and, hence, dismissed.”


Residents seek DC’s intervention
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Members of the Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha and residents of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar are upset with police failure to identify, leave alone nabbing the four persons, who allegedly kidnapped and trimmed the beard of an ex-secretary of the Gurdwara management committee early morning on November 16.

They have requested the Deputy Commissioner to direct the police for speedy action in the case so as to restore the confidence of the people in the law enforcing agency. The residents took out a rally yesterday in protest against the police inaction. They first went to Sarabha Nagar police station and then to the mini secretariat to hand over a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.

The memorandum said the police investigations in the case were moving at a snail’s pace. There was strong resentment against the incident but the police machinery was yet to move, the residents alleged.

An ex-secretary of the management committee of Gurdwara Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar was allegedly kidnapped by four youths in a car from outside the Gurdwara on November 16. He was beaten up and his beard was trimmed. He was thrown out of the car at Thrike village more than 5 km away.

Mr Gurbax Bhatia had gone to the gurdwara for morning prayers at about 6 a.m. He had just reached the place when a car stopped near him and one youth came out and asked the way of some place. He then threw the man in the car. The man was left at Thrike village from where he managed to return to his house in BRS Nagar at about 7.30 a.m. He could not recognise anybody as the kidnappers had muffled their faces.

The exact motive of the attack was yet to be known. According to Mr Bhatia, the kidnappers kept saying that they would teach him a lesson. Taking name of another ex-officio member of the gurdwara management, the kidnappers said they would set him right also.


Where should the beggars go?
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
For a common man begging may appear to be the growing menace. But where should all these beggars go? That question is being raised by the People for Peoples Society, a non-government organisation (NGO) working for the uplift of the poor and downtrodden, particularly the beggars. The issue assumes importance in the backdrop of massive crackdown by the police on beggars recently.

According to Mr O P Grover, chairman of the society, there are about 12,000 beggars in Ludhiana. These belong to all ages and both sexes with the age ranging between four years and 80 years. Mr Grover has conducted an extensive survey on beggars, probably one of the few conducted by any individual or institution anywhere in the country. In fact Mr Grover begged himself for seven days along with the beggars to get an insight into their living. He believes, “they (the beggars) are to be rehabilitated as they cannot be kept in jail for long...because they are not criminals. After all giving alms has religious sanctity and they accept the alms only offered by people of their own will.”

During the seven day survey, Mr Grover learnt some sensational things. “You cannot even imagine what happens in their world”, he disclosed. “It involves all the bad things in the world from stealing to prostitution depending on the situation the beggar is placed in”, he revealed. And most of it takes place under the very nose of the police. Some beggars were reportedly even provided with tokens (sort of identity cards) by the police probably during the time of militancy so that they could be differentiated from the militants who could disguise themselves as beggars.

“Most of the young girls seen begging are forced into high-level prostitution also”, he disclosed. These girls are picked up and sent to the beauty parlour where they are made up properly. They are provided with clothes so that they become presentable. If they resist they are threatened with dire consequences. And after they finish the job they are handed over some paltry sum of Rs 100 or so for the job.

And it is these girls who do not mind stealing and picking pockets. Once they get into this, they learn the tricks of the trade as they start believing themselves immune to the law for obvious reasons. “That is why girls or young women of specific age are not seen begging”, Mr Grover pointed out.

Mr Grover found various categories of beggars. Some are by compulsion for being handicapped. Handicap is the biggest reason for begging. Some are forced into begging, while some do it by choice. There are some begging mafias also, which run the begging rackets, the survey revealed. The beggars working for these rackets are offered just two time meals and asked to deposit all their “earnings” with the “boss”.

The daily “earnings” of the beggars range between Rs 50 and Rs 500 depending on the area one operates. Plus they also get good food. Mr Grover attributes the rise of beggary in Ludhiana to the beliefs of people who make generous offerings.

According to a rough estimate, based on extensive study, on an average people in Ludhiana make offerings worth Rs 3 lakh every day in about 120 temples spread across the city. And most of these beggars thrive outside the temples only.

Mr Grover has launched the society with the sole purpose to rehabilitate the beggars properly. In the first phase he has identified physically challenged beggars who would be provided place in the ashram. He has been appealing people to contribute for this noble mission. He tries to convince people, “you can hate begging but do not hate the beggars. Just try to understand their circumstances”.


35-km rail track by 2003-end
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
Preliminary work on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh rail link was on and 35 km of rail track would be in place by the end of next year. This was revealed by Mr R.K. Singh, General Manager, Northern Railways, in a chat with newsman here this afternoon.

Mr Singh, who was in the town in connection with the silver jubilee celebrations of the Diesel Locomotive Shed here, also said that electrification of the Ludhiana-Jalandhar rail track would be completed by March next year and of the Jalandhar-Amritsar section by June next.

Disclosing that the Northern Railways was spending Rs. 24.5 crore on the passenger amenity year being observed currently, Mr Singh said that the Northern Railways had introduced UTS or the Unreserved Ticketing System at 23 different railway stations which enabled people to buy a rail ticket 30 days in advance. He said the system was going on very well and would be introduced all over the country in the near future. Since the system is interconnected with a central server, it would go a long way in removing the menace of fraud by way of forged tickets and receipts issued by touts.

Mr Singh also said that the Northern Railways had introduced a record number of 74 new trains in the current year and that the earnings from freight had increased by 48 per cent in spite of the fact that there was no increase in the number of staff or the wagons.

The Northern Railways had also introduced a pilot project under which anti-collision devices or ACDs have been installed at various places to minimise rail accidents. These devices which have been put in place on the Jalandhar and Amritsar sections would soon be extended to other parts of the country. These devices would go a long way in ensuring the safety of the rail passengers, opined Mr Singh.


Tragedy averted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
It was a providential escape for residents of Sarabha Nagar, shopkeepers on the Malhar road and three persons travelling in a truck, when the vehicle loaded with filled gas cylinders turned turtle after losing balance due to the breaking down of its axle.

The accident took place at about 10:15 a.m. just opposite a private clinic on the busy road. Munshi Ram, the cleaner of the truck, told TNS that the axle of the truck suddenly broke causing imbalance. The driver tried to control the truck but the heavily loaded vehicle overturned.

The gas cylinders fell on the road and rolled away. Though there was a loud noise at the falling of the cylinders but none of these exploded. Munshi Ram received bruises on his arms and legs but the other two occupants , including driver, suffered head injuries. They were under medical care at the private clinic.

It took some time for the traffic police to clear the road blockade caused by the truck. Police sources said the truck seemed to be very heavily loaded, causing the breaking down of the axle.


Tourism staff join issue with CM
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
The Punjab Tourism Employees Union has taken strong exception to the remarks made by the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on the disinvestment of Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).

In a statement here yesterday, Mr Mangal Singh Hundal, president and Mr Vijay Joshi, general secretary of the union, maintained that the losses of the PTDC, described by the Chief Minister at Rs 4 crore were highly exaggerated and contrary to facts. The corporation had suffered a loss of Rs 43.72 lakh in the year 2000-2001 while the figure had gone down to Rs 29.64 lakh during last financial year.” With the change of guard at the top level, the PTDC, in all probability would turn the corner and improve its financial health.

The union functionaries wondered whether certain vested interests were misguiding the Chief Minister for ulterior motives and wrong financial data was being fed to the government functionaries to sully the image of the PTDC. While condemning the statement of the Chief Minister, the union urged the government to close the chapter of disinvestment of the PTDC in the larger interests of the state economy and the tourism employees. It, however, made clear that if the government persisted with its policies, the employees might have to resort to an agitation.


Campaign against privatisation intensified
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
As part of the nationwide signature campaign on the health of banking industry, the local unit of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation (PBEF) has collected over 2 lakh signatures from city residents. According to Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary of the PBEF, the petition carrying the signatures would be handed over to the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA), which proposes to forward the petition with over 3 crore signatures to the President of India.

According to a press note of the PBEF, the AIBEA would hold a national-level rally in Delhi to focus on the policy of privatisation of nationalised banks and other anti-employees policies. More than 50,000 bank employees from all over the country, with some 400 from the city, would participate in the rally.

Mr Gaur expressed concern over multiple attacks on the working class in general and bank employees in particular. The attack on bank unions had been intensified with the introduction of second round of the VRS in the Bank of India. Further, the government was said to have accepted all anti-employees recommendations of the Second Labour Commission. “While the employers are being given free rights of retrenchment, closure, lay-off, outsourcing of jobs, legalising contractual labour, the rights of the workers, including that to strike, are sought to be restricted.” The government was making all-out efforts to hand over public sector banks to private sector, including foreign companies, at the behest of the IMF and the World Bank.


Seminar on quality systems
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) will organise a one-day workshop on “Quality systems” on November 26. This was stated by Mr Mahesh Munjal, vice-president, and Mr V.K Goyal, general secretary, LMA, here today.

Senior consultants from Rail India Technical and Economic Services Limited (RITES), a Government of India Enterprise, which is extensively involved in preparing organisations for the implementation of quality systems and quality systems certification for this management development programme will participate in the seminar, Mr Munjal said.

The LMA is also organising a lecture “Quality systems” the same day to give an insight into the latest quality systems ISO 9000 (Version 2000), QS 9000, TS 16949, 6 Sigma and ISO 14000 to the members of the association, Mr V.K Goyal added.

Speaking on the relevance of the subject, Mr Munjal said that most of the Indian business organisations are under threat from developed countries with high-quality products at low prices from China. In order to meet this threat and convert it into opportunity, it is high time that we wake up and study how they manufacture good-quality products at low prices. “We must understand that quality is not inspected or selected, it is always manufactured,” he added.

“All these companies adopted various quality management systems. These quality systems have also undergone improvement and are now available in latest versions, which are different from what they were a year ago”, Mr Goyal added.


Annual function of Pir Baba
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
On the second day of the Sixth Annual Lakh Data Lalan Pir and Baba Balaknath Ji Fair being celebrated at Dera Pir Nigahan, Chawni Mohalla, several artistes sang devotional songs. A bhavan was inaugurated by SP City, Harish Kumar, and a lamp was lighted by Ravinder Arora, vice-chairperson of the Shiv Sena on the occasion.

Well-known comedian Chacha Raunki Ram not only entertained the public audience, but also sang devotional songs. The other singers who entertained the audience were Ajit Jeeta, Vipan Rana, Dhanjal Mann and others.


India, S. Africa to ink free-trade pact
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
India and South Africa will sign a free-trade agreement soon. This was stated by Ms M.E. Nkoana Mashabane, South African High Commissioner, at an interactive meeting with industry representatives from Punjab organised by the PHDCCI here today.

The agreement will open the gates of the European and African markets for the Indian industry since South Africa already exports 11,000 products to these countries, the High Commissioner said.

To promote trade relations with South Africa, especially in the areas of agriculture, food processing, textile, gems, jewellery, metal scrap and pharmaceuticals, the PHDCCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National African Federated Chambers of Commerce (NAFCOC), Limpopo, South Africa.

“Our motive is to establish and develop commercial and technological links between the business communities of both countries with a special focus on organising trade and market research symposia to promote trade activity between the two, which has already reached the $2.5 billion mark in 2002, Mr P.K. Jain, vice-president, PHDCCI, said in his welcome address.

Mr Ashwini Sekhri, Minister for Culture Affairs and Tourism, Punjab, said both Punjab and Limpopo were highly developed states with skilled entrepreneurship which was always looking out for more avenues for business. He outlined the opportunities in importing mineral wealth from South Africa.

Mr T.R. Sarangal, Director, Industries, Punjab, mentioned the advantages of importing metal scrap directly from South Africa and not via the current Middle-East route.

The delegation members, who have already signed various pacts with the Punjab industrialists during this trip, have identified various organisations and agriculture-related units operating in Punjab to encourage further trade between the two countries. Mr Ngoako A. Ramatlhodi, Premier of Limpopo province in South Africa, said with the advantage of fertile soil, low cost of land, low population levels and abundant natural resources in South Africa, immense synergy could be achieved through mutual collaboration.

Mr R.S. Sachdeva, co-chairman of the Punjab Committee of the PHDCCI, in his vote of thanks, said efforts should be made to promote the development of commercial and technical relations between India and South Africa.

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