Sunday, January 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Cops move court against swindlers 
Hundreds of youths duped of more than Rs 10 crore
Amarjit Thind and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Ahmedgarh, January 4
The Punjab Police has moved a local court to initiate proceedings with the Himachal Pradesh Government for the attachment of land measuring 26 bighas at Dharampur and Mashobra so that it could be auctioned at the earliest and its proceeds utilised to compensate more than 100 innocent persons who were duped by a swindler and his wife with promises of lucrative jobs abroad.

The couple in question — Ramnik Bansal and his wife Shakhshi — were recently booked by the Malerkotla police under Sections 420, 406, 407 and 468 of the IPC. The cops have till date recovered 63 passports from them bearing forged visas and other related documents used to lure aspirants to greener pastures with high-paying jobs for large sums of money.

Disclosing the modus operandi of the couple, Mr Amandeep Singh Rai, Senior Superintendent of Police, Sangrur, and Mr Rajbachan Singh Sandhu, DSP, Malerkotla, said they had received numerous complaints about the couple and had constituted a team to nab them. The SSP said their efforts bore fruit and the couple was finally arrested in November. Subsequent, detailed investigations revealed that more than 100 persons had been duped of more than Rs 10 crore which was invested in Himachal Pardesh in a flourishing real estate business.

Mr Rai said,” Contrary to the general belief that Punjabis cannot purchase in Himachal Pardesh, the couple managed to float a company named Snow Valley Estate Private Limited and bought 24 bighas land near Dharampur on the Bidal-Shimla highway. Another piece of land measuring 2 bighas was bought in the name of Himalayan Gramin Society, Mashobra, a purported NGO, which couple had allegedly opened to allegedly corner grants from foreign organisations.”

The SSP said that the couple had exploited the prevalent mindset of rural Punjabi youth, who are desperate to go abroad at any cost, the stories of severe hardships in foreign prisons and even icy graves notwithstanding.

“They charmed the victims with their communication skills and apparent links with political figures, including some MPs and a Union Minister. We have till now recovered 63 passports, which had fake visas affixed on them,” he disclosed.

Mr Rai added “At the first stage, only the passport of the victim was accepted by them. After a few days, a fake letter — purportedly written by the embassy of the destinated country intimating that application was being processed — was despatched to the applicant. An average of Rs 2 lakh was taken as the first instalment. In the next step, the victim was handed over a coloured photocopy of the fake visa along with a job letter from a foreign company. The applicant used to be told that the original passport had been retained by the company. He was made to part with another Rs 4 lakh at this stage. Depending on the paying capacity of the victim, a handsome sum was charged in the name of procuring foreign currency and air tickets. Thus, on an average Rs 6 — 8 lakh were charged from each applicant,” he pointed out.

According to the investigating officials, the couple used the name of SAFOP (Social Action for Oppressed People), Kullu, besides the Himalayan Gramin Society, Mashobra, and Snow Valley Estates to influence the targets and dodge the law-enforcing agencies.

Attractive and impressive literature of these organisations were used to bait the gullible youth. In many cases, fake letter pads of some Union Ministers and high-ranking officials were also used to issue recommendation letters and appointment orders. In one such case, one Mr Chuni Lal Arora of Ludhiana had been issued an appointment letter as Chairman, FCI, Northern Zone. The police is yet to locate Mr Arora.

Interestingly, Ramnik Bansal of Malerkotla is a rags-to-riches story. He used to run his family by doing petty jobs only a decade earlier. The local police had registered a case against him on the complaint of one Baljit Kumar but before he could be arrested, he left the town.

The cops said now working as a powerful inter-state travel agent, Ramnik enjoyed the patronage of several influential politicians. In many cases, he also arranged for loans at exorbitant interests were also managed by the swindler. A good number of youths not only succeeded in going abroad but he reportedly also arranged government jobs for many others who could pay him handsomely. To influence his victims, he used to take them to some MPs at Delhi and flaunt his connections by talking in an informal way. Letter pads of many MPs were used to issue recommendation letters for a price.



110 underweight LPG cylinders seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
In a drive against defaulting LPG gas distributors, four teams of district administration officials swooped on at least 40 LPG distribution points and seized 110 underweight cylinders here today.

A case was also registered against two distributors for allegedly selling underweight cylinders under the LPG Control Order of Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.

The action follows the instructions given by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Agarwal, who had issued notices 15 days ago to all distributors in the city to maintain standards or face action. The raids were conducted by four teams with the first one comprising SDM (East), Mr Ajoy Sharma and District Food and Supplies Officer, Ms Simarjot Kaur; second headed by SDM (West), Ms Bhawna Garg; third by Executive Magistrate, Mr Gurkirat Singh; and fourth by Tehsildar (East), Ms Balraj Kaur.

The four teams raided around 40 distribution centres and the owners of two agencies — Sant Gas Agency in Shimla Puri and Ludhiana Gas Agency, near Civil Hospital — were booked for supplying underweight cylinders.

The officials wrote to the Indian Oil Corporation to take necessary action against the defaulters. The DC warned the dealers against the malpractices and said more raids would be conducted in future.



Chill brings thrill to hosiery units
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
At last hosiery manufacturers in the city are a happy lot. Notwithstanding denials, it is learnt that most of the units have managed to get their stocks cleared. those who had started special sales offering heavy discounts also reaped a good harvest.

sources in the hosiery industry revealed that payments have also started flowing in. these were held up for quite some time. as usual the hosiery manufacturers and dealers are not too optimistic. They maintain that for them these are only dying moments of the season.

"This is like fighting the fire at the eleventh hour", Mr Naresh Kumar, a middle-level hosiery manufacturer observed, clarifying it was "too little too late".

all hosiery manufacturers and dealers are unanimous that they have been able to clear all stocks of the previous year. Had the cold season set in a little earlier, it would have been a handsome bonanza. he pointed out, lorhi was only a week away and it would be warm again.

With stocks getting accumulated during the past two seasons, most of the leading manufacturers of woollens had to set up sale counters at a heavy discount.

"We had to sell the goods ourselves as huge stocks were pending. It is better to sell them at a low price than to throw them away", manufacturer of a leading brand said. He said there was nothing wrong if they were giving stiff competition to small and middle-level manufacturers. Because when people can get branded items at the same price, why should they opt for non- branded items". An interesting trend witnessed this year was the large- scale manufacturing of light-weight jackets. While the jackets were already in vogue for quite some time, this year the manufacturers introduced light-weight jackets. These jackets can be used till the month of February. They can also be used over sweaters in case the cold is extreme.

The widespread discount sales on hosiery goods have also hit the Sunday market in Ludhiana. market sources revealed that transactions during Sunday markets would run in crores. 



NRI woman’s murder case solved
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
The police yesterday claimed to have solved the murder case of a 72-year-old NRI woman whose body was found in a “burning” state at her residence in Jamalpur on the night of December 27 last year.

The police said primary investigations into the case pointed at the involvement of Nand Lal, a 17-year-old migrant from UP, who had been employed as domestic help by the woman.

According to the police, on the fateful day, Nand Lal had gone see one of his relatives, Vinod Kumar, in Giaspura in the evening.

They were joined by another migrant, Achhe Lal. The three had some drinks before leaving for the house of the victim where they had another drinking session. The accused then entered the room of Ms Mohinder Kaur, who was asleep, held her arms and strangulated her.

After committing the crime, the alleged murderers tried to destroy the evidence by pouring some petrol taken out from a car on the body along with the blood-stained pillow and bed sheet and set it on fire.

While Vinod and Achhe Lal went to their house in Giaspura, Nand Lal raised the alarm after 20 minutes at which the neighbours telephoned the fire brigade.

Police personnel from the nearby Division No. 7 police station reached the spot and found the body in a “burning” state.

The police is conducting raids on various hideouts to arrest the absconding murderers.



Evading tax at railway station
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 4
Even as the Railways here has closed several doors to have only one entry and exit point to check sales tax evasion, the closed doors have ironically become the perfect points to smuggle out goods for the ‘‘smart’’ tax evaders. This despite the fact that the sales tax officials have stepped up vigil to nab the tax evaders. The evasion continues unabated in the outer area of the city’s railway station, causing annual revenue loss of lakhs of rupees to the public exchequer.

A Ludhiana Tribune team spent some time at these closed gates of the railway station and much to its surprise, the tax evaders smoothly smuggle out huge parcels by crossing the unmanned gates at various places. Interestingly, at places where the gates were totally closed and crossing over was not possible at all, the goods were handed over to a man posted outside the gate by another man who got the delivery from the parcel office of the Railways.

Surprisingly in around an hour’s time, around five tax evaders successfully smuggled the goods outside the railway station through the closed gates and the sale tax officials did not even get a wind of it.

The officials posted at the station said it was not the case that they were not aware of the smuggling but they could not do anything because the Railways did not allow them to book the tax evaders on the station premises. Venting their ire on the Railways, the officials said that at some gates, which were VIP routes, the vehicles carrying goods were let out allegedly by some employees of the railway station. 



‘Mul Di Teenvi’ author in town
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
One does not expect a woman writer explicit about sex. But these are exceptions, such as Veena Verma based in the UK. She was in the city on the invitation of Punjab Sahitya Akademi which had organised a function at Punjabi Bhavan late last evening. Mr Surjit Patar, president of the Akademi, accorded her a welcome.

Popularly known as ‘Punjab di Shobha De’, Veena does not mind the description. She says: “What is — whether one calls it sleaze or explicit sexual narration. But I represent facts of life. Why put the man-woman relationship under wraps just because one is a woman writer.”



Runaway thieves arrested
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 4
The Laddowal police has managed to nab the two thieves and their alleged accomplices who had escaped from police custody a few days ago. The thieves were apprehended by some shopkeepers and handed over to the police.

According to sources, the police, in a bid to nab the thieves, had picked up the mother and brother-in-law of one of the thieves. The breakthrough came when the mobile phone of one of the persons detained rang up during the interrogation. The brother-in-law was asked to invite the thieves to a drinking place where a police party nabbed them. The arrested persons have been identified as Sonu and Monu, brothers, their mother Saroh Rani, who is employed as a Home Guard, and their accomplice Pawan Kumar alias Arjun.

The police said the accused were earlier arrested in a raid conducted on a tip-off while they were allegedly hatching a plan to commit a theft. The police said it had seized a mobile phone and some stolen articles from the possession of the arrested persons.

Thieves strike at Rly Colony: Thieves broke into four houses in the Railway Colony No. 10, near the Division No. 5 police station, and stole valuables worth thousands of rupees on Thursday night. The thieves broke into the house of a railway driver, Mr Ajit Singh, and took away Rs 5,500 in cash, one telephone set and some clothes.

Similarly, Mr Attar Singh’s house in the same colony was also burgled. The burglars took away a trunk containing clothes and some silver ornaments from the house of Ms Asha Rani, C-253. However, the fourth house burgled by the thieves in the colony had been vacated some time ago.

Man crushed under train: Mr Girdhari Lal, a mason belonging to Rurki village, near Goraya, and employed in the DMC Hospital here, who had arrived at the local railway station by a passenger train from Ambala yesterday, fell onto the rail track as a result of which both his legs were severed by a train. He was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

Tipsy driver booked: The Model Town police has registered a case against a tipsy driver who rammed his car into a shop in Gole Market and injured a shop assistant Darshan Kumar yesterday. According to information, Bhupinder Singh, who was driving a car with temporary registration number first hit a scooterist before ramming the vehicle into a fruit and juice shop in the busy market. Darshan Kumar received injuries in the mishap. The police has impounded the car.


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