Thursday, April 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Police ‘using’ murder case to solve other cases
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Even though the Ludhiana police has failed to solve the over one-year-old murder case of industrialist Nirmal Jain, the case is now allegedly being used as a ploy to bring to book anti-social elements wanted in some other cases.

While six months ago, the police had brought two terrorists — Surinder Singh alias Fauji and Amrik Singh alias Balbir Singh alias Amarjit Singh — who were arrested under POTA in connection with the murder case, from Jammu and Kashmir, one prisoner — Jayaparkash — was brought earlier this week from Tihar Jail, Delhi, on the suspicion of his involvement in the same case.

Jayaparkash is being tipped as a close associate of an alleged arms and fake currency smuggler, Surjit Singh. The alleged smuggler is wanted in the fake currency racket unearthed by the Ludhiana police recently in which an alleged terrorist had died in an encounter with the police.

Inquiries have revealed that the suspects have no links with the murder case and have just been brought on production warrants by the police in order to question them regarding some other case. This is established from the fact that the suspects have been sent back to the jails they were brought from without being implicated in the murder case. The police, however, got some information on other cases for which the suspects were “actually” interrogated.

While terrorists from Jammu and Kashmir eventually divulged information on the movement of some terrorist organisations in the district, the alleged smuggler from Tihar Jail gave information on the activities of the alleged smuggler, Surjit Singh, and Sandeep Johar, who was killed in the police encounter.

Speaking off the record, the police official concerned with the case admitted that they had used the case as a pretext to interrogate the suspects wanted for interrogation on some important information. The police officials, however, said they could not admit this on the record as they had taken the production warrants from a city court.

When asked whether it amounted to hurting the sentiments of the family of the industrialist, who see a glimmer of hope each time the police makes such a move, the police sources said the police had a certain way to work and the criminals brought on production warrants also had caused misery to someone at some time.

Nirmal Jain was murdered on January 2 last year when he was returning home with his brother Ashwani Jain in his chauffeur-driven car by two motor cycle-borne unidentified youths.

According to the first theory, the industrialist was killed by contract killers but no breakthrough was made. Personal enmity with some relative was stated to have been the other cause of the murder. Ultimately, the police started bringing the accused in other cases on production warrants.

In June last year, Ludhiana Tribune had carried a report on how the police was trying to bring Jammu and Kashmir terrorists on production warrants. The police had done this secretly by filing a petition in a district court.



Might is right in land grab case
Complainants implicated in false cases
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Even as residents of Jagirpur village near here have been raising a hue and cry over the encroachment of panchayati land worth crores for the past several years, no headway has been made into the case.

The land, a sprawling 55 acres, is of significance as it was given to the village panchayat under Indira Aawas Yojna, a national project, in 1973. It was meant for the downtrodden section of the village, but it was grabbed by some persons and the very purpose of providing shelter to those living below the poverty line was defeated. Various inquiries have been initiated into the case, but to no avail as the land grabbers are allegedly influential people.

Despite fighting a battle for the past 30 years, the villagers have not been able to get the possession of the land. The peeved villagers had written to the Prime Minister in February urging upon him to intervene in the face of alleged inaction of the district administration into the case.

In the letter, the villagers had alleged that as the land was in the possession of some influential persons, officials of the district administration had failed to do anything to get the land vacated from the alleged land grabbers.

Despite waiting for more than two months, the letter to the Prime Minister did not bear any fruit. Now they are claiming that an inquiry by an independent agency only could bring the guilty to the book.

The Bharati Bhalai Morcha has been virtually running from pillar to post to get the land vacated but to no avail. The morcha had alleged that the land having mutation number 729 and 730 as per the revenue records (dated July 24, 1984) belonged to the panchayat of Jagirpur village and some people had illegally occupied it.

The morcha had further alleged that despite the fact that the land belonged to the village panchayat as per the revenue records, the local administration was not doing anything to get it vacated and hand over to the original owner. The president of morcha, Mr Tarsem Singh, said the fight between the village panchayat and the occupants of the land was on for the past more than 10 years. He said the morcha had approached a former Chief Minister and a former Rural Development and Panchayat Minister over the issue, but despite promises nothing was done in the matter.

Mr Tarsem Singh said that the former government had claimed a number of times that the land would be handed over to the panchayat, but no action was taken by the successive state governments or the local administration. He demanded that the land should be given to the panchayat and it should generate funds from it instead of the illegal occupants doing so.

Mr Tarsem Singh alleged that whenever the matter was highlighted by the morcha, its members were falsely implicated in criminal or other cases. He said the morcha would not rest till the land was freed of the encroachment and restored to the village panchayat. He demanded that an inquiry should be initiated as soon as possible and justice should be done to the village panchayat.

Former Deputy Commissioner S.K. Sandhu had said two years ago that an inquiry would be initiated into the encroachment issue, on the allegations levelled by the representatives of the Bharti Bhalai Morcha that they were harassed by the police and the district administration for taking up the issue. 



Govt insensitive, allege crash victims’ kin 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Even though the Indian Air Force authorities have given compensation to the relatives of victims of MiG-23 air crash, which killed seven persons and damaged several houses at Bank Colony in Mullanpur Dakha on April 4, the state government is yet to provide them the relief.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, had announced that the state government would pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to the families of the deceased but the announcement is yet to be enforced.

To save these families from further harassment, residents of Mullanpur Dakha have formed a coordination committee that would take up the matter with the authorities concerned. Headed by Mr Prem Inder Goga, president, Nagar Panchayat, the committee would take up the cause of aggrieved families with the state government.

The relatives of the victims state that while the Indian Air Force authorities had paid the compensation for the damages on the next day of the crash itself, various ministers of the state government and officials of the district administration, who had visited Mullanpur Dakha yesterday to attend the bhog ceremony of victims, came empty-handed and went back with tall promises.

An NGO, Sarv Rog Ka Aukhad Naam Mission, however presented cheques to the victims’ families. The members of the organisation, Dr Balwant Singh and Bhai Mohan Singh, handed over cheques to the relatives of deceased.

Mr Purshottam Singh Bholla, a resident of Bank Colony, whose wife and two children were killed in the mishap, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today said the delay in providing compensation reflected insensitivity of the government towards the kin of the victims.

“It does not matter to us whether they pay me compensation or not. I have lost my wife, a daughter and a son. They would never come back. I never want money paid as compensation for the loss of life. But look at their insensitivity. They came here, uttered words of consolation and went back. It’s like rubbing salt on our wounds,” said Bholla, who said he was expecting that cheques would be handed over to them at the ceremony.

He added that the Air Force officials had noted down everything about the damage within a few hours and had paid a cheque for Rs 40,000 each to the victims. But the administration was very slow in doing the same thing, he maintained.

Those who had attended the ceremony included Mr K.K. Bawa, president, District Congress Committee, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, former minister, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, Member Parliament, Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, Mr Ajoy Sharma, SDM, Mr Sharanjit Dhillon, Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik, Mr Hira Singh Gabria and Mr Swaroop Singh Mohi.



Truckers' stir continues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
The indefinite strike by truckers entered the third day today with no movement of goods in the district. Mr Bhupinder Singh Pandher, president of the Punjab Goods Transport Association, said the strike was complete not only in the state but also in the entire country. No goods were being booked and the movement of goods had come to a standstill. Although the movement of essential commodities had been allowed in the larger public interest, the transporters were not ready to ferry perishable goods since they were apprehensive that these could be delayed en route in other parts of the country, he pointed out.

A meeting of the truckers was held at Jalandhar where the members took stock of the strike.

"We are in touch with the All-India Motor Transport Congress and the secretary of the body informed us that they had been called for parleys with the Union Transport Secretary but the invitation was turned down since the truckers felt that no worthwhile outcome would be possible unless they talked to the Union Transport Minister, he added.

Others present included Mr S.K.Goyal, Mr Jaspal Sharma, Mr Kulwant Singh and Mr Ramesh Kumar, all senior members of the body. 



5-rupee coins: you may be taken for a ride
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 16
Those who receive change for the currency they give need to guard against being taken for a ride. A few smart residents here are sticking together two 50-paisa coins and passing them on as a five-rupee coin.

Local banks and their officials have been trying hard to counter the fraudulent use of two 50- paisa coins as a five- rupee coin. Fifty-paise coins are almost the same in size and thickness as five-rupee coins to a non-discerning eye.

Ms Bharti Goyal, a homemaker, complained that she had bought a bread from a confectionary shop in Ghumar Mandi yesterday for which she gave a 20-rupee note to the shopkeeper and the shopkeeper returned two coins of five rupees each. “I did not notice anything at the shop but when I came home, I saw that one of the coins was not a five-rupee coin but two 50-paisa coins had been stuck together cleverly” said Ms Goyal.

Mr Vijay Bhardwaj, a local resident, said such coins were in circulation. “I was also cheated by a rickshaw-puller recently. I had to pay him five rupees. I asked him for change as I had a 10-rupee note. He returned me a “manipulated” five-rupee coin”.

Such “manipulated” coins are often seen with rickshaw- pullers, vegetable sellers, shopkeeper’s having confectionary items, etc who deal with small change. People are being taken for a ride by some cheats in the city.



Hosiery manufacturers begin fast
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
With no response from the government on the issue of withdrawal of the Central excise, the hosiery manufacturers today started an indefinite fast to press for their demands. A group of manufacturers today started a fast at Chowk Saidan. The hosiery manufacturers would also stage dharnas at different market places where they would also observe fast in groups.

According to Mr Narinder Kumar Miglani, chief coordinator of the Federation of Knitwear, Textile and Allied Industries Association (FEKTAA), which is spearheading the agitation, the fast would continue till the government did not withdraw the Central excise duty on the hosiery products. He claimed that all hosiery manufacturing units remained closed for the 17th day today.

Mr Miglani said since the manufacturers had exhausted all ways and means of protest, they had now decided to go on a chain fast. He said the agitation might be intensified in different ways and he appealed to people to cooperate with them. He pointed out the hosiery manufacturers were suffering huge losses but had no other option except to suspend work. He described the levy of the Central excise on hosiery goods as ‘totally unjustified’.

Meanwhile, the Directorate of Central Excise has extended the last date of filing the stock declarations from April 14 to April 25, 2003. All those manufacturers who would get themselves registered before or by April 25 and also file their stock declarations would be entitled to 8 per cent credit on the pending stock. A senior department official told TNS that the directorate had made it clear that the deadline would not be extended further.

Any movement of goods after or before April 25 without the Central excise registration would be deemed violative of the Central Excise Act and liable for penal action. The official said that so far about 450 hosiery manufacturers had got themselves registered with the department and also declared their pending stocks. All of them would be entitled to the credit announced by the government.

Mr Miglani said the hosiery manufacturers were still hopeful that the government may provide them some relief. He pointed out the date for filing of stock declarations had been extended thrice and the government was likely to announce some relief at least for the small manufacturers. Otherwise, he said, it would be difficult for the hosiery industry to survive. 



Independent defeats Cong candidate
Our Correspondent

Khanna, April 16
The result of the repoll at booth No 3 in Ward No 17 of Khanna Municipal Council left the congress cadre stunned as the former block president of the Khanna Congress was defeated by a margin of 98 votes by an independent candidate Dinkar Kalia (Shanti ) today.

Earlier the polling was held for this ward on April 5 along with 26 other wards. The result of this ward was upheld by the returning officer because the Congress candidate, Mr Ashok Tewari, allegedly tore 270 ballot papers during the counting of the votes. The then presiding officer brought on record that the ballot papers had been torn up by Mr Tewari in the presence of the SHO (City). The Election Commission requisitioned the whole record and announced repolling at booth No 3 on Wednesday. He also ordered the suspension of the SHO.

Today the repolling was held under tight security. As many as 995 votes were polled out of 1,088 votes. Mr Kalia won from this booth by a margin of 92 votes. 



PMCs want immediate payment of arrears
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
The Federation of Park Management Committees (PMCs) has urged the State Government to sort out the issue of non-payment of arrears without any further delay and also to restore the previous rates for maintenance of parks in the city so that the PMCs could continue the good work and the city parks could be maintained at the desired level.

A delegation of the federation, headed by its president, Mr S.S. Chana, met the Punjab Minister for Higher Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, at his residence here last evening and brought to his notice that the bills of PMCs, amounting to Rs 70 lakh, for maintenance of the parks, were held up with the Municipal Corporation for the last over one-and-a-half year. The minister was told that the Audit Department of the MC had refused to approve the payment due to fresh directive by the government on the rates for the maintenance of parks despite the fact that the civic body had signed legal agreements with the PMCs on the rates prevalent at that time.

According to Mr Chana, the minister gave a patient hearing to the plea taken by the representatives of PMCs and called up the Director of Local Government, Mr B.R. Banga, to settle the issue on a permanent basis. Mr Banga agreed to meet a deputation of the PMCs in his office at Chandigarh so that a solution could be found out for payment of pending bills at the rates claimed by the PMCs.

Mr Chana claimed that with the PMCs going defunct due to non-payment of their legitimate bills, the city parks had become a picture of neglect. Not only the lush green lawns and blooming shrubs and plants had become a thing of the past, quite a few parks had turned into garbage dumps and happy hunting grounds for stray animals. Many others had been encroached upon by miscreants and vested interests in the absence of the caretakers. He claimed that by entrusting the job of maintenance of parks to the PMCs in the city, the MC was saving a huge Rs 1.70 crore per annum.

After the Municipal Corporation persisted to make payment to the PMCs on slashed rate of Rs 0.50 per square metre as directed by the government against the earlier rate of Rs 1 per square metre, most of the 120-odd PMCs, comprising mostly of senior citizens, retired officials and prominent public figures of the respective areas, had gone non-functional.

The state government, observed the functionaries of the PMCs, had not only cut down the rate for maintenance of parks by 50 per cent, it also wanted that the monthly payment for this purpose should not exceed Rs 1000 per park, irrespective of the size of the park.

However, the MC administration maintained that it was bound to abide by the government directions and payment in excess of the rates fixed by the government could not be made to the PMCs. Sources in the MC revealed that the matter had repeatedly been taken up with the Department of Local Government at various levels for restoration of the old rates and releasing pending payment. Moreover, the general house of the civic body had also adopted resolutions to this effect twice on different occasions, which were forwarded to the government for necessary action without any positive result so far.



Men who help you beat the heat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 16
Temperatures this summer have shot up high in a rather short time. The mercury is almost touching 40°C and people are trying to beat the heat. The first thing they are paying attention to is to get their coolers ready.

Adept workers from Chandigarh are bringing truckloads of straw cooler pads to the town . The most common sight here is the sight of people selling water cooler pads. Either they are selling readymade pads or making this with their skilful fingers. They have arranged the pads in such a way that no one can miss them.

Mrs Sodhi, a city resident, says,” The cooler pads have to be changed every year as due to constant absorption of water, the pads become discoloured. Moreover, they lose the capacity to soak any more water. So, we have to change the pads every year. We are thankful to these people who make these pads in different parts of the city. We have to haggle over the price a bit, but it is fun.”

Bishnu a cooler pad maker, says, "Cooler pad business is seasonal. So, the entire family gets busy in making these pads. We require bamboos as we need to split these to give support. First we have to invest our own money to buy the raw material. At times we have to pay interest on the money we borrow for the purpose.

A number of large families are involved in making these pads.

After making the cooler pads in hundreds, we bring these to Ludhiana and workers spread out in different localities to sell these.

They are priced reasonably, yet people want some discount. They pay readily in big stores, but just because we are sitting on the pavements, we have to sell at a reduced price.”



Devotion needs no bounds
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, April 16
“I am setting out for Patna Sahib Gurdwara tomorrow on my bicycle. This is my seventh trip to a place of pilgrimage. I have been to Hemkunt Sahib, Manji Sahib, Hazoor Sahib, Panj Thakhat before this,” said 46-year-old Mr Gurbhachan Singh. Mr Gurbhachan Singh, employed since 1987 in Budhewal Sugar Mills, takes three months off when the sugar mill closes down and goes on a pilgrimage on his bicycle.

He sets out on his bicycle equipped with a few change of clothes and an air pump. Mr Gurbhachan Singh says: “I feel that differences between religions are artificially created. Basically all human beings are good.”

Gurbhachan Singh cycles during morning and evening hours and rests during the afternoons at a religious place on the way.

“I often take shelter in a temple after cycling 150 km every day. The Hindus offer me meals and provide me with bedding. On the way too, ‘dhabha’ owners are very welcoming and never charge money for the food or shelter. I am generally on the roads for 45 days and my expenditure is very limited. I have been so touched by the warmth of the people that I feel like going on a pilgrimage every year. My faith in humanity grows stronger with every trip,” says he.

He adds: “This is my second trip to Patna. People are generally apprehensive of travelling alone due to fear of being robbed on the streets of Patna, but no one robbed me the last time I went. I want to urge people to obliterate the superficial difference on the surface.”



Trucker found dead

Ludhiana, April 16
Mystery shrouds the death of a truck driver who was found dead in his house in Shimla Puri here today. The driver, Jasmeet Singh, died in his sleep. Family sources said the driver had taken meal and gone to sleep but did not wake up. TNS



Newly born found abandoned
Our Correspondent

Doraha, April 16
A newly born baby boy was found abandoned by the Sarpanch of Katani Kalan village near Gurdwara Katana Sahib on Tuesday morning.
Mr Manjit Singh, Sarpanch, was coming out of the gurdwara when he noticed a two-day-old baby boy, wrapped in an old cloth, lying near the wall of the holy place. He, along with his cousin Bahadur Singh, picked up the crying baby and took him to Mangat Nursing Home at Doraha. As the baby was found to be healthy, the Sarpanch brought him to his house. A case has been registered under Section 317 of the IPC at Sahnewal police station.

According to the Sarpanch, the child has been adopted by Mr Malkit Singh, 52, of the same village whose son of 18 years expired 3 years ago in an accident. 



Flesh trade racket busted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 16
Six girls and an alleged pimp were rounded up by police personnel of the Maraudo police post this evening under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act after the group was caught in one of its dens falling under the area of the police post. The man belongs to Kheri village and is said to be running the racket. Officials at the police post were tight-lipped over the issue and said only senior officials could comment.



Sewing machine industry in bad shape
Naveen S.Garewal
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, April 16
Ludhiana has been a home to the sewing machine industry for over a hundred years. In fact it was 120 years ago that the city entrepreneurs started manufacturing different types of sewing machines for the entire region spreading up to Lahore now in Pakistan. Several people turned millionaires over the years. But today the hey day of this industry seem to be over.

The fear is not so much from cheap imported machines that have begun to flood the market, but from the inability of the industry to keep up with the modernisation of their units. With the availability of small and trendy sewing machines, there are not many takers for the heavier older prototypes in the domestic market. Interestingly, some such machines are still being exported to third world countries.

With rising labour and input costs, industry bigwigs feel that their sales would further dwindle, as they would be put at more of a disadvantage in terms of production and sales costs as compared to the Taiwanese, Japan and Chinese machines. Most big garment manufacturing units that once used sewing machines made in Ludhiana now prefer imported machines like Jaguar, Juki, Pegasus, etc that provide a much better finish, higher quality and better production.

Lala Lajpat Rai, local MP, who was once a leading manufacturer making and marketing the Rita brand of machines, says, “The industry had suffered a setback because it failed to keep pace with the new technology. The industry has, therefore, not grown and has become more or less stagnant”.

India produces about 18 lakh machines annually in about 175 units around the country. These machine-manufacturing units provide employment to around 25,000 persons directly or indirectly and produce goods worth about Rs 150 crore for the domestic market. Nearly 75 per cent of these units are concentrated in or around Ludhiana. Machines and their parts amounting to around Rs 5 crore are also exported to Bangladesh and some African countries.

Anil Aulakh, who manufacturers the Luxmi brand of sewing machines says, “It is a sunset time in the sewing machine industry as the priorities of the buyers have changed. In earlier days every marriage saw a sewing machine being given as a gift. This has changed today”. Though the major brands continue to be Usha and Singer, the remaining share is mostly in the hands of small-scale units. While a locally made machine costs about Rs 1500, a similar imported machine costs nearly 10 times.

Most people associated with the sewing machine industry says that the industry has failed to modernise. For the survival of the industry most people have been demanding that the sales tax on the industry should be reduced from 8.8 per cent to 4.4 per cent The industry now has hopes on the opening of the European markets in 2005 where it hopes to export between 25-30 lakh machines annually.


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