Monday, February 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India

L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


PHRC saves family from wrath of IPS officer
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Report harassment by a policeman and suffer the consequences — ask this local family that suffered it. An elderly woman and a physically challenged youth of this family were, first, harassed by an IPS officer during a train journey four months ago and, then, charged with lodging a false complaint against him.

After suffering repeated harassment by the police, the family of Mr Vijay Chabra, who lives in Kitchlu Nagar here, has, now, some reason to cheer. The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has put a stop to all inquiries against the family that had been initiated after the IPS officer had allegedly used his influence to lodge several complaints against it.

Acting on a petition filed through a human rights activist, Mr Charanjit Bakshi, the PHRC has directed the police chiefs of the Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts to ensure that no undue harassment is caused to the family. It has not only stayed all pending inquiries against the family, but also directed the ADGP to personally investigate the matter.

The complaint has been registered under Section 12 of the Protection of the Human Rights Act. The case file says that the wife of Mr Vijay Chabra, Ms Kanchan Chabra (55), and their physically challenged son, Mr Gagan Chabra (27) were travelling in Shatabdi Express from New Delhi to Ludhiana on October 5 last year. Ms Kanchan requested some co-passengers to exchange his seats with them, as her son was finding it difficult to reach the toilet from his seat, that was far from it. The passenger, Mr Anoop Singh Minhas, the IPS officer, initially, agreed and vacated the seat, but changed his mind thereafter and said he wanted his seat back. When the woman resisted, the officer “abused her without any provocation”.

The argument became bitter and the officer, in a git of rage, threw down the luggage of the woman and her son and started giving them blows. The youth tried to save his mother, but was pushed away.

Relatives of the woman, Mr Ashok Arora and his wife Ms Renu Arora, who had come to see them off at the New Delhi railway station, intervened and got them released from the clutches of the passenger. Ms Renu Arora also called the police for help, but got no assistance, by which time, the train had started moving and MrAshok Arora and his wife had to get off.

According to the case file, the passenger continued to bother the complainants during the entire journey. When the train reached Rajpura, he approached them again and rained blows and kicks on them. He also made some lewd gestures. He also told the woman and her son that, after reaching Jalandhar, he would make arrangements to get them killed.

The harassed woman borrowed a mobile telephone from a fellow passenger and talked to her husband in Ludhiana, who, then, brought a police party with him to receive his wife and son at the local railway station. The police team included the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr Tarsem Vohra, an ASI, Mr Karam Singh, and a Head Constable, Mr Mohinder Ram.

On seeing the police party, the passenger gave it his introduction and told the complainants that he would teach them a lesson. The family, then, lodged a complaint with the police, but no action was taken on it. However, the police acted on the instructions passed by the IPS officer, after about 15 days of which, the Superintendent of Police at Jalandhar, Mr Paramjit Singh, visited the complainants for inquiring into a complaint filed by Mr Minhas. Though the statements of the complainants were recorded, they were not told about the charges against them.

The petitioner said Mr Minhas lived in Jalandhar and the complainants had learnt that, due to his contacts with senior IPS officers, he was clandestinely trying to frame the family. The petitioner also said the family had received a message from the office of Mr Manjit Singh, DSP (Crime), to cooperate in an inquiry against them, initiated on the basis of a complaint filed by Mr Minhas. The complainants were not told the subject of the complaint, which is in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

The police is still threatening the complainants and raids on their house are still on. The family has developed fear psychosis due to it.



Betting on for cricket World Cup
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
As the cricket World Cup started today in South Africa on a grand note, the betting game started simultaneously in the city with crores being put at stake by punters on various teams.

Australia stands at the top among the bookies while India is placed fourth after Africa and Pakistan which are placed second and third. There are hundreds others who are placing small bets for the underdogs as these offer massive returns. Weaker the team, more the returns.

Although betting has become part of cricket, it is expected to touch an all-time high during the World Cup. “It is betting all the way. Nothing else”, remarked a punter. While local bookies are accepting stakes from the hundreds of punters, the betting is reportedly being controlled from Dubai with Karachi-based underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim exercising considerable control. The recent killing of Sharad Shetty, a close Dawood aide, is being linked with the rivalry in the betting world.

While Australia stand to be the favourites, India are placed on the fourth spot. The returns on a bet on Australia are lowest as compared to India. Although different bookies offer different rates on different teams, more or less the pattern remains the same.

For example, a particular bookie offers Re 1.8 for Australia as the champions, while another offers a little less at Re 1.6 for every one rupee. Similarly, there are different rates for South Africa which come close to Australia. For SA, the rates vary from Rs 2.15 to Rs 2.35 for each rupee.

While Australia and South Africa are close favourites, Pakistan remain a distant third with the bookies almost uniformly offering Rs 10 for each rupee for Pakistan winning the cup. India comes at fourth place, ahead of Sri Lanka and England and West Indies with Rs 14 offered for each rupee. Some bookies are offering even less at Rs 13 for each rupee for India.

However, sources in the betting circles revealed that the rates may not remain the same with the progress of the cup, depending upon the performance of the teams. On several occasions it is the underdogs who have done wonders like India did in 1983 and Sri Lanka in 1992.

“Nothing can be ruled out”, said a punter while pointing out, “people are putting their stakes cautiously for the cup”.

The betting is likely to increase with each match. Although the bookies have registered good business so far for the over-all cup, it is the individual matches they are dependent upon. Obviously, the bookies are expecting a huge business on the match between India and Pakistan.

“For the people (read the punters) of the subcontinent, it will attract most number of bets worth hundreds of crores”, revealed a punter.

Besides Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Patiala, Ferozepore, Bathinda Jammu, Sirsa, Hansi and Hisar are considered main betting centres of the region with total transactions expected to touch hundreds of crores.

Except for Jammu, everywhere the stakes are put through mobile telephones alone.



Tipsy youths thrash NRI; four arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Drunken youths yesterday mercilessly beat up an NRI youth near Samrala Chowk yesterday. The incident occurred in the afternoon when NRI Gurmeet Singh was travelling in his new Maruti Zen along with his cousin, Kuldeep Singh. They were going to their native place, Nabha.

The police has registered an FIR and four accused have been arrested.

According to eyewitnesses, the drunken youth, who were in two cars, a Maruti 800 and an Uno had allegedly parked their vehicles in the middle of the road. When Gurmeet asked them to give way, they allegedly started misbehaving with him and his cousin. An altercation followed and the two were mercilessly beaten up by the youths said to be about 12 in number.

It was only after the intervention of passersby that they could be saved from major harm. The two were straightway taken to the Vardhaman police post. According to the SHO, Mr Randhir Singh, an FIR was registered. He said four persons had been arrested so far.

Gurmeet Singh, accompanied by his father, Mr Balbir Singh today met the Senior Superintendent of Police. Mr Balbir Singh said the SSP gave them a patient hearing and assured that a case against the culprits would be registered under Section 307 of the IPC. An inquiry, he said, had been marked to a Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Mr Balbir Singh said his son had come here from the UK for a brief visit. He said it was shocking that his son had been beaten up without provocation.

He said Gurmeet had suffered several injuries in the assault. Had it not been for the intervention of passersby, the situation could have taken an ugly turn. He demanded action against the guilty at the earliest.



MC ban on car bazaars causes tension
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Tension prevailed in the local Feroze Gandhi Market and the Gian Singh Rara Wala Market today after the MC officials did not allow car dealers to hold a car bazaar in the markets and towed away the vehicle of a man who had visited the market for shopping.

A team of MC officials descended on the Feroze Gandhi Market in the morning and warned the car dealers against the holding of car bazaar by putting up ‘shamiana’ in the parking lot. The car dealers refrained from putting up tents, but they alleged they had to lose business following MC orders.

In the morning, MC officials, towed away the car of a shopper. The car was parked outside the market. Exasperated at the act, the owner of the car, Mr Bhagwant Singh, a teacher, and his wife protested and the team had to give their car back.

Mr Bhagwant Singh said he had parked the car only five minutes ago as the parking lot of the market was locked and he could not park his car there. He said he had nothing to do with the car bazaar as he and his wife had come for buying some garments from a store in the market. He added it was none of his fault as the parking lot was locked and he had no other option, but to park the car outside the parking lot.

Car dealers alleged the municipal corporation was hell bent upon harassing them as they had purchased shops and booths from the Improvement Trust but these were later handed over to the MC. They added that at that time it was never told to them that they would not be allowed to hold car bazaars in the market. They said they were doing their business in the area for the past 20 years, but nobody had ever said anything to them.

Mr Baljit Singh, an advocate and general secretary of the Car Dealers Association, Feroze Gandhi Market, said car bazaars were providing employment to around 10,000 people in Ludhiana. He said by not doing business on a Sunday, the dealers had to suffer a loss of lakhs of rupees.

Stating that thousands of people visited the local car bazaar from all parts of the state on Sundays. He said it was a harassment to them also as they had to return back without selling or purchasing cars.

The car dealers demanded if the MC wanted them to shift to some other place, they were ready for the same, but the MC should allot them a proper place. They added they had no problems with the shopkeepers of the Feroze Gandhi Market as they were ready to discuss and sort out their mutual problems. They said they did not cause inconvenience to anybody as they held car bazaars only on Sundays, when other shops were closed.

Meanwhile, minor altercations were witnessed at the local Gian Singh Rara Wala Market also where two groups of car dealers were seen exchanging hot words. A group led by Mr Mohinder Singh, alleged the MC had not allowed 23 dealers to hold car bazaars, but around seven car dealers, led by Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, a local Congress leader, were allowed to do business. They alleged even the police sided with the other group.



Work on Budha Nullah spells doom for residents
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Chuhar Pur (Ludhiana), February 9
The laying of sewer by the local water supply and sewerage board of the Municipal Corporation to make the Budha Nullah here pollution-free has been spelling doom for the residents of this village. Due to the digging of road to lay the pipeline, many houses have collapsed.

The laying of pipes is aimed at making the nullah clean by diverting and facilitating the flow of sewage waste into the treatment plant at Balloke village.

The walls of some houses in this village had collapsed and the agricultural produce had been wasted as the department has been temporarily acquiring some part of the land for work.

A portion of house of Mohinder Singh, a local resident, collapsed after the earth caved in. "Did we build houses only to lose them like this? When we complain, they say they will reconstruct the house. They have been working here for the past six months. I don't understand how long will they take to complete it," he rued.

The villagers demanded that the direction of the pipeline be changed as they feared harm to their property.

The contractors, however, said the villagers need not panic as the houses which had collapsed during the laying of sewer would be reconstructed. They said they had already repaired and reconstructed the houses which had been damaged during the project as per their agreement.

The supervisor said the land was very sandy and it was impossible to save the buildings on either side of the road. He said pipes with a diameter of 60 inches were to be laid for which the entire road had to be dug. Due to the digging of earth on both sides of the drain, the land was caving in. He further said many houses had been already repaired and added that the expenditure of the repair would be borne by the company.

He alleged that most of the villagers had encroached upon the land earmarked for the roads because of which the road area had narrowed down. Besides, the villagers kept watering lawns despite instructions against the same, he alleged.

He added that the Municipal Corporation had not provided them money for the past many months. "The money had been sanctioned three months ago but it was yet to be released", he said.



Gang of robbers busted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
The local police claims to have busted a gang of robbers with the arrest of Harbinder Singh, alias Binder of Manuke, Harvinder Singh of Dhurkot, Sikandar Singh of Acharwal, Manjit Singh of Sodiwal, and Satwant Singh of Shahkot near Sohian with weapons while planning to commit a crime.

They were responsible for the murder of Baghel Singh, a student of Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Polytechnic College. During further interrogation, the accused confessed to having stolen a scooter on August 20,1998, from Puri Auto Centre Jagraon, for which an FIR was lodged.

They said they had looted a petrol station at Hathur village at Jagraon and stolen a scooter near Jandi village.

They also tried to steal another scooter but on resistance by the riders, fired and injured them and later took their scooter towards Kishanpura.

They robbed an Esteem car at gun point near Gahaur which they had hired from Ludhiana.



e-monitor launched
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
A product of Access-Online Private Limited, Mumbai, a wonderful software e-monitor, was launched today at Sherpur, Ludhiana, by a global entrepreneur, Satinder Pal Singh Chadha. e-monitor is essential for confidential information. In other words, it is a safeguard for computer data. Speakers expressed hope that e-monitor would also help check cyber crime. Mr Chadha informed that a seminar was shortly being organised on the rising cyber crime graph, but he refused to give details.


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