Saturday, January 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Traders up in arms against ST Dept 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Local traders are up in arms against the local Sales Tax Department as they claim that the department has started collecting tax in advance from them owing to the revenue losses faced by it during the current financial year.

While the Sales Tax officials are vehemently denying the development, the traders claim that they are being harassed and have been told to pay three months tax in advance till January 10.

The traders were, however, not willing to be quoted for obvious reasons. They said almost all the traders in the city had been told to pay the tax for first three months of this year up to March.

Sources in the department told Ludhiana Tribune that the advance collection of sales tax was being done in district-3 of the Sales Tax Division as the zone was facing losses in the current year.

The department had conducted maximum surveys and seized goods without the sales tax receipts.

The authorities had been claiming that the department had registered an increase in the sales tax amount paid by the traders due to the strictness of its officials.

The traders alleged that the officials were asking them to pay the tax in advance that would be adjusted in the annual tax return paid at the end of every financial year. As per the sales tax laws, the sales tax has to be deposited only with the return.

The traders further say that paying the tax in advance will block their money. Moreover, they could not know the exact sales in advance, which would affect their planning for the business.

Some officials of the department, who did not wish to be quoted, said these were only rumours spread by some traders who wanted to evade sales tax but were being nabbed by officials.

The officials further said there was no truth in the reports except that they had told some big traders to deposit the tax every month.

The officials counter-alleged that the traders were in the habit of evading the sales tax by one means or the other.

They said they had been hoodwinking the officials by adopting various means. The department had also initiated actions against their practices that had infuriated them.



BKU seeks special session 
Taxing of agriculture sector
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
In view of the Kelkar Committee’s recommendation to tax agriculture sector, the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has urged the Punjab CM and the leader of the Opposition to convene a special session of the Assembly to oppose the move. Besides, the union has also decided to spearhead the struggle of thousands of farmers who have not been paid their arrears by sugar mills of the state.

This was stated by Mr Manjit Singh Kadian and Mr Bhupinder Singh Mahesri, secretary general and spokesperson for the union, respectively, here today. They said the recommendations had given a jolt to the farming community of the state, which has been passing through a trying phase. Moreover, they claimed that the issue was a state subject, as such the Centre had no right to accept the recommendations and tax agricultural income.

Besides, the Assembly should also pass a resolution demanding renumerated prices for farm produce. The prices should be linked to the price index so that the farmers could get realistic prices for their produce and keep farming a viable proposition. Otherwise, the future of farming was grim as has been witnessed in the large-scale suicides by farmers who had been unable to pay back their debts. Hence, the need of the hour was to pass the resolutions at the earliest, they pointed out.

The union has also appealed to all MPs to rise above party lines and float a pro-farmer pressure group so that all farmer-related issues could be pursued to their (farmers) advantage.

Professor Kadian said while the Centre had notified the FCI to release the bonus amount on paddy, the state government was yet to do anything in this context. The government was yet to release the bonus of Rs 30 as announced on the eve of the Assembly election.

He said the union would also hold a convention of delegates on January 8 at Khanpur village, near Kharar, to mark the struggle to be waged against the Punjab Government by the Bharti Kisan Union for the non-payment of arrears of the sugarcane crop purchased by various mills from the farmers.

He said despite a written agreement by two ministers — Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar and Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang — with their representatives after the 30-hr-long “rasta roko” agitation in Kharar sometime back, nothing had been done. The ministers had assured that all arrears till October, 2002 would be released. The government owed more than Rs 80 crore to the farmers, he added.

Meanwhile, acting on the directions of the state unit chief, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, Mr B.S. Mahesri and Mr Puran Singh Shahkot were nominated as general secretaries.



SP-rank official to hold probe 
Sexual harassment of college lecturer
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
The alleged case of sexual harassment of a city lecturer has taken a new turn with the Punjab State Woman Commission (PSWC) directing the city SSP to appoint an SP-rank official for conducting inquiry into the case.
The orders dated December 18 and received here today also direct the city police to complete the inquiry within 15 days.

The case has already witnessed a couple of inquiries. One was conducted by the management of the Government College for Boys and the second inquiry by DSP B.S. Bakshi is in process these days.

The inquiry by the college management had gone against the alleged victim.

Informed police sources said the investigation by Mr Bakshi was nearing a decisive stage.

It could have gone either way but some evidence had definitely come up during investigation that was tilting the case in favour of the alleged victim.

Sources said the directions of the new inquiry were surprising for the Police Department.

The orders state that the new inquiry has been ordered on the representation of Mr K.B.S. Sodhi, former president, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union.

The orders of the woman commission state that the senior police officer should conduct the inquiry, keeping in mind the sensitivity of the situation and seriousness of the allegations.

The young lecturer had been allegedly harassed by 16 boys of the college about two months ago.

They had drawn obscene graffiti on the walls of the classroom and blackboard.

Instead of taking action against the accused students, the college management allegedly changed the section of the teacher and she was also humiliated and pressurised to take back the complaint.

The teacher had resigned in protest. The college management, reportedly, stated in defence that the matter was blown out of proportion by the teacher.

It maintains that the students had apologised to her in writing also but she wanted stronger punishment.

Further action was not possible as the allegations were not substantiated, say the management members.

While the college lecturer has been airing her disappointment with the way the powers that be were ‘ridiculing’ her stand, Mr Sodhi filed a representation to the woman commission to intervene in the matter.

A copy of the representation states that her’s was a clear-cut case of sexual harassment.

He has quoted Supreme Court orders to explain that this was a case of sexual harassment.

He said making caricatures or graffiti, verbal and obscene, in nature amounted to sexual harassment.

Mr Sodhi said instead of taking a strict stand against the incidence of sexual harassment, the authorities were trying to hide it.

He quotes the resignation letter of the lecturer to prove his point, “I am resigning in protest against the partial attitude of the college authorities. I cannot work in a place where it is considered the birth right of a male student to indulge in obscenity whenever and wherever he pleases”. 



Shopkeepers to fight it out with PUDA
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 3
The issue of auctioned PUDA land near Jagraon Bridge took a new turn with affected shopkeepers alleging that a scam involving crores had been committed by a private builder in collusion with senior bureaucrats and district officials.

As senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal have extended support to the affected shopkeepers, the matter may snowball into a major controversy.

Senior government officials, from the rank of Chief Secretary, Punjab, down to the Deputy Commissioner, PUDA, and others in the Revenue Department, had done all to favour the buyer of PUDA land, Gazebo Builders, owned by Mr Madan Singh Brara, this was evident from the unambiguous directions issued by the Chief Secretary to the officials concerned at a meeting at Chandigarh on October 28 to ensure that the land, whose total area stood revised from 7889 square yards to 8307 square yards, should be handed over to the buyer and all encroachments and illegal structures on the boundary of the land removed forthwith.

Not only this, showing undue haste, the revenue officials here transferred ownership of the land in the name of PUDA on December 23, 2002, whereas in a copy of jamabandi, issued on December 9, the ownership stood in the name of the Municipal Corporation. In the meantime, the Revenue and Rehabilitation Department had officially intimated the Deputy Commissioner here that the total area of the site had been revised to 8307 square yards.

Coming out in support of the affected shopkeepers, the former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Sat Pal Gosain, and district president of the SAD, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, today said they would fight against the high-handedness of the administration and not allow lawful tenants and owners of shops to be uprooted, only to favour the builder.

Addressing a press conference here, the BJP and SAD functionaries claimed that atleast 50 shopkeepers, who were lawful tenants of shops owned by the Municipal Corporation, apprehended forcible eviction from their properties so that the additional land could be handed over to the builder, who had purchased an adjoining piece of land from PUDA almost three years ago.

Going a step further, they maintained that the entire process of auction of land, adopted by PUDA way back in 1999 was a farce and the land had been offered to the builder on a platter at throwaway prices, causing a loss to the state exchequer worth several crores.

Members of the Lakshmi Shopkeepers Union said they had occupied these shops for well over four decades and were paying regular rent to the MC. Many shopkeepers had given consent to the civic body to buy the shops and had already paid part of the sale consideration. They alleged that at the instance of the buyer of the plot adjoining these shops, the PUDA Administration had hatched a plot to get their shops demolished and uproot them.

Mr Gosain and Mr Makkar said a detailed memorandum had already been forwarded to the Chief Minister, demanding a high-level inquiry into the matter and to take action against defaulting officers. As a follow up action, a memorandum would be submitted to the Deputy Commissioner on coming Monday, calling for justice and the matter would also be taken up with Union Government for effective intervention.

They said the two parties would jointly hold dharnas and hold a peaceful protest to focus on the plight of the shopkeepers and the partisan attitude of the administration. The shopkeepers, said they would also have recourse to legal channels at the appropriate level in a couple of days.



Chilly winds cause ailments
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
City residents have started developing symptoms of various ailments due to climatic change in this part of the region. The snowy winds during the past few days have brought the temperature down and people have been complaining of cough, cold, fever, body-ache, bronchitis etc.

Dr P.K. Dhandona, Professor of Medicine, Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, confirmed that there was a rise in the number of patients suffering from these ailments due to the cold weather. He said most common ailment due to changing weather was of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) caused by respiratory syncital virus among children. He said even adults could catch this viral infection. “Usually people with minor ailments like fever, cold and cough do not come to the hospital, even then we are getting 8-10 patients with deteriorated bronchitis and pneumonia every day in our OPD. The main reason for such infections is that people prefer to remain indoors and get crowded. Due to poor ventilation, the virus gets multiplied and more people catch the infection,” said Dr Dhandona.

Dr Gursharan Singh, president of the local unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA), said running nose, headache, bodyache, cold, fever were all self limiting diseases and could be cured within 8-10 days time. But the patients require proper medicine, he stressed. “If timely medication is not given to the patients, the minor ailments get deteriorated into diseases like pneumonia and bronchitis. These ailments may cause ear-infections,” Dr Gursharan said.

People also complain of watering eyes and burning eyes. The doctors advised that persons should cover their noses and eyes with cloth and glasses respectively, while going out in the evenings.

Dr Dhandona suggested that crowding should be avoided. The people should take a lot of fluids and vitamins, sudden exposure to chilly winds should be avoided. The children should be properly covered with warm vests and woollen clothes as they catch the virus easily.

Dr Gursharan said babies should not be taken out in the evenings. “Children should not be allowed to eat fried food, sauces, ice creams or cold drinks as a sore throat can trigger off to a severe chest infection,” said Dr Gursharan.



Icy winds chill petty business
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, January 3
Boisterous celebrations to usher in the New Year notwithstanding, inclement weather for the past three days has badly hit hundreds of daily wagers who find it impossible to venture out in the icy cold.

With foggy conditions prevailing in the region, trains have been arriving several hours behind schedule. As a result of the late running of trains on the Ludhiana-Amritsar, Ludhiana-Jakhal and Ludhiana-Ferozepore sections, hundreds of daily wagers who commute between their respective towns and the city have been worst affected. Since the late running of trains on these sections is not a novel feature for these daily wagers, they have been utilising the services of tempos and mini-trucks to reach their places of work on time, as most of them are paid according to their daily output.

Of these daily wagers, the worst hit are the hosiery workers for whom the ‘season’ means everything.

Apart from commuting hosiery workers, those involved in trades on the roadside have been affected by the cold weather. A young migrant from UP who sells peanuts on an otherwise busy road in the heart of the city lamented that business was dull.

And those who depend upon hard, menial jobs for a livelihood, searching work on a day-to-day basis, are also finding it hard to cope with the hostile weather. A group of such workers, who had not found any work today, was huddled around a bonfire near the Railway station to beat the cold and gossip away their idleness. They were quite anxious about the possibilities of a bright sunshine sooner rather than later while some were of the view that there would be no respite from the current cold conditions until Lohri was over.

And as far as bonfires are concerned, these have come up virtually every where in the city where people can be seen warming themselves up.

But in spite of the miseries being faced by poorer sections of the society in general, the current spell of cold weather has brought smiles to traders’ faces as sales of electric heaters, woollens and other winter accessories have picked up in the past three days. In the farming sector too, it is jubilation time all around as hovering clouds hold promise of more rains in the days to come.



Fog likely to persist
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
It is chilling in Ludhiana with the day and night temperatures falling to a record low. Intense cold and dense fog is likely to continue at least for another two days before the region gets reprieve.

Weather experts maintain that the conditions may change after two days as western disturbances have started moving eastwards after crossing the Himalayan region.

According to Dr Paramjit Singh Sehra, a meteorological expert at the Punjab Agricultural University here, foggy conditions will prevail at least for another two days.

Satellite pictures of the region received today showed that the region may get some reprieve from intense cold, but it would only be after two or more days.

While the new year night was the coldest at 3.6° C, last night was no better with the mercury rising only by a degree. 



Bairagi Mandal’s plea to Cong
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The Bairagi Mahan Mandal, Punjab, today urged the Congress high command to ensure due representation to backward classes in the forthcoming municipal elections in Punjab. Addressing a meeting of the body in Rajguru Nagar here, its state president, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, also called upon the government to provide reservation to BCs, based on their population, in the panchayats, municipal committees, Assembly and Parliament.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Dr Rajinder Pal Bairagi, Mr Ravinder Nandy, Mr Jiwan Das Bawa, Mr Naseeb Bawa and Mr Rajinder Bawa.

He further asked the government for enhancement in posts in government jobs for them in proportionate with the increase in population over the years.



Lepers given blankets
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana January 3
As part of the welfare programme of the District Red Cross Society to help the poor, Mrs Sunil Agarwal, chairperson of the society, distributed blankets among lepers in Kusht Ashram and inmates of Nishkam Virdh Kender at Dad village today.

Elaborating on the programme, Mrs Agarwal said the District Red Cross Society was running a large number of welfare schemes for slum-dwellers and other down-trodden people and had planned to provide artificial limbs among the needy at a cost of Rs 14 lakh during this year.

She said the registration of beneficiaries for artificial limbs had been started. Under the National Child Labour Project - to provide education to children of slum-dwellers - the society was running three schools, where 50 students each were being given education and nutritious food.

The chairperson said to meet the regular demand of blood for thalassemia patients, the society was organising special blood donation camps. 



Computer centre was gangsters’ den: cops
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, January 3
The police crackdown on a computer centre at Kup Da Tota, a small hamlet, near here, has revealed that what seemed to be a training centre was the den of a gang involved in printing of counterfeit currency.

Inquiries form the spot and information received from Mr Upinderjit Singh Ghuman, Superintendent of Police (D), revealed that the centre had been printing and distributing fake currency for more than a year. The racket was unearthed when a Maruti car (PCF 9813) was intercepted by a police team headed by Mr Surjit Singh Kundhali, Inspector, CIA, Hoshiarpur, and Ravinder Singh, SHO, Bullowal.

The police party recovered counterfeit currency from the occupants. One of the accused, Kuldeep Singh of Kuthala, escaped, while Surinder Singh Shinda and Harjinder Singh Jinda of Baurhai Kalan and Gurdeep Singh, alias Mohli, of Jogimajra were nabbed on the spot.

Preliminary investigations by the police revealed that the gang had recently purchased a colour laser jet 4,600 printer of HP company for Rs 1.5 lakh from Noida. A police party headed by Mr Dharam Singh, DSP (D), raided the centre yesterday and seized the computer, scanner, laser printer, coloured monitor and currency worth Rs 1 lakh.

Interrogation of the accused revealed that the gang had close links with Avtar Singh, alias Tari, of Shamchurasi, Narinder Singh, alias Billa, of Muhadippur and Sohan Singh of Mansurpur Wadala, who had recently been arrested by the Hoshiarpur police for involvement in bank dacoities in Hoshiarpur district.



NRI and brother shot at, one held
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 3
The Model Town police arrested Resham Singh, a resident of Jawaddi village, for allegedly shooting at an NRI and his brother yesterday. It also seized his licensed gun and cartridges.

According to information, Mr Daljeet Singh had come from Canada to solemnise his marriage on January 5. His brother, Manjit Singh, who has been undergoing a murder trial following the killing of Resham Singh’s 20-year-old son Gurcharan Singh, had recently been released on parole by the court because of his brother’s marriage. When the two of them were returning home, Resham Singh, allegedly with the intention of avenging his son’s murder, shot at them with his licensed gun. No one was injured in the shooting. The police has registered a case.

Poppy husk seized: The Salem Tabri police seized 16 bags of poppy husk weighing about 640 kg being transported in a truck at a checkpost on the GT Road, near Jalandhar bypass, on Wednesday night. Three youths — Surjit Singh, a resident of Moga, Kuljit and Baljit Singh, both residents of Jalandhar — travelling in the truck were arrested. The arrested youths reportedly confessed that they had been smuggling the contraband from Himachal Pradesh to sell it off in the city. The police has registered a case under the NDPS Act.

One held with opium: The Sadar police has arrested Raj Singh, a resident of Amritsar, and seized 2 kg of opium from his possession. The recovery was made during a special checking. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.

Man loses leg: Mr Khushwinder Singh, a resident of Islam Ganj, was admitted to the CMC Hospital yesterday with an amputated leg after he was run over by the Chhatisgarh Express late on Wednesday night. The Railway Police took him to the Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the CMC Hospital.

Beaten-up: The Sadar police yesterday registered a case on the statement of Mr Major Singh (55), a resident of Dallian village, who has been admitted to the Civil Hospital with a broken arm, against his neighbour.

The complainant had alleged that due to a dispute over a wall, his neighbour had attacked him with an iron rod and broken his arm.

Liquor cases: The Division No. 3 police has arrested Charanjit Singh, a resident of Mochpura Bazar, and seized 12 bottles of illicit liquor from his possession. The Basti Jodhewal police has arrested Surinder Singh, a resident of Dheri village, and seized five bottles of illicit liquor from his possession. The Sadar police has arrested Surinder Kumar, a resident of Bokar Dogra village, and Darshan Singh, a resident of Baddowal village, and seized seven and eight bottles, respectively, of illicit liquor from their possession. Cases under the Excise Act have been registered.

Three held: The Division No. 3 police has arrested Rakesh, a resident of Benjamin Road, Tilak Sharma, a resident of DMC Hospital canteen, and Ketan Joshi, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, and booked them under Section 160 of the IPC. According to the police, the accused were quarrelling on the road, consequently obstructing the traffic.

Four held: Four persons have been arrested from different parts of the city and booked under the Arms Act for carrying “kamanidar” knives. They have been identified as Ram Bahadur Nepali, arrested by the Division No. 7 police; Raj Maan, arrested by the Focal Point police; and Manvir and Vikram Singh, who were arrested by the Sadar police.

ASI handed over:
ASI Shashi Atwal, who was arrested by the police on January 1 in a car theft case, was today handed over to the Jalandhar police after getting approval from the Judicial Court here.

The ASI was produced in the court of Judicial Magistrate after a one-day police remand. The accused was, however, needed by the Jalandhar police in some other cases, while his co-accused Kulwant Kaur has been remanded in judicial custody till January 16.

The two were arrested at a checkpost near the ITI in a stolen car belonging to a manager of an insurance company. 



Two youths stab man, loot Rs 10,000
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Two scooter-borne youths stabbed and looted an employee of a cloth merchant of about Rs 10,000 at Chander Nagar here late last nigh.
The victim, identified as Uttam Singh, was admitted to DMC hospital with serious injuries last night.

His condition was said to be stable now.

Uttam Singh and his colleague Raman Kumar were returning home after collecting payments from some clients when two scooter-borne youths stopped them.

Brandishing knives, they directed them to hand over the bag containing the money.

However, the two persons resisted and tried to run away. The robbers got better of them by stabbing Uttam Singh.

The Division No 8 police station has registered a case.



Lottery lovers get another dose
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
Ultra-modern gambling helped and assisted by software technology is promising millions of rupees to the winners. To be precise, at least Rs 50 crore as the first prize. The amount happens to be the minimum assured and can always go up in case it is not hit in the first draw.

This is what E-Cool Solutions, an associate of Playwin Infravest Private Limited, promises to offer as the first prize with the overall prizes to be distributed amounting to Rs 100 crore. The E-Cool Gaming Solutions today unveiled India’s biggest online lottery “Megawin Maha Lotto” on behalf of the Maharashtra Government.

Addressing a press conference here today, the vice-president of Playwin Infravest, Mr A.K. Ahuja, said, the promoter of the lottery, the Essel Group has extended its online lottery business with one more special initiative, a Mega Jackpot of Rs 50 crore “to stimulate gaming lovers a round the country with additional Rs 50 crore as prize money” for match V, match IV and match III winners.

Mr Ahuja said each “Maha Lotto” game is priced at Rs 100 and the first draw is slated for Sunday, March 30, 2003. It is essentially a monthly game with the subsequent draws happening on the last Sunday of the month. The tickets are on sale from today onwards and are available on 4,500 terminals of Playwin across the 14 lottery playing states of the country.

The Maha Lotto consists of a playslip that allows its players to play up to three panels of games. Each player selects six numbers between 1 and 61 per panel by striking them and if all the 6 selected numbers match with the numbers drawn, the player will be eligible to win the “Megawin Maha Lotto Jackpot” of Rs 50 crore. If the player matches five of the same numbers drawn, he can win Rs 25 lakh. The amount is para mutual which means that the amount may vary with the total number of winners and the total prize pool. Similarly, any player who matches four numbers will get Rs 10,000 and he who matches three number will get Rs 500 as prize money.

Mr Ahuja clarified that the money earned by the state governments from the online lottery is used for development works. So far, Playwin Infravest has paid Rs 50 crore to the Sikkim Government, which has reserved it for education, health care and infrastructure development. Similarly, the Karnataka and Maharashtra governments have also made similar provisions for reserving the money earned on lottery for development purposes only.


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