Saturday, May 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Kingpin of piracy trade nabbed
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
In a major achievement, the Ludhiana police in a raid in Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) arrested the alleged kingpin of the piracy trade in the country that crippled the film industry by causing a loss of Rs 1700 crore last year only besides causing a loss of several hundred crores of rupees to the country.

The accused Jai Ram, said to be the kingpin in the illegal trade, who distributes pirated audio-video CDs all over the country through specially recruited agents was brought here today and presented before a district judge. He was remanded in police remand for one day.

Police force of several states in the country was trying to nab the accused ever since the film industry pressurised the government to intervene in the matter. The movement against piracy is being led by Indian Motion Pictures Association. It has all leading filmstars and producers as its members.

Police sources said the alleged kingpin was arrested by the Ludhiana police after specific information that the city was emerging as a major circulation point of pirated CDs. The police is likely to take action against several persons in the city who were involved in the illegal trade.

The sources said Jai Ram was allegedly the uncrowned king of the trade along with his two alleged partners Mukesh Horha and Dilip Bajpat Rai of Delhi. The police had last month arrested Pardeep Kumar, alias Bholla, from Ludhiana, who was allegedly one of the main agents of Jai Ram.

The sources said Jai Ram would be questioned about the network of the piracy. According to information with the local police, the trade extends from Mumbai to Dubai to Pakistan and Nepal.

Mr Anil Malhotra of the Malhotra Copyright Protection Agency, who is fighting the case on behalf of the Indian Motion Pictures Association and the Motion Pictures Association of America claimed to Ludhiana Tribune that Jai Ram and his team were the major headache for the film producers. He said Ludhiana was a major centre where the piracy trade was rampant.

Explaining the modus operandi, he said the master print of a new film or a new music cassette was released abroad a week before it was released in India. The pirates take the print from such countries especially the Gulf countries. The second line of channel was from Mumbai itself from where the print was leaked by dons (bhai log as they are called).

The prints from countries like Dubai are smuggled to India via Pakistan and Nepal. They reach the metros from where the prints are smuggled through trains and buses. The local pirates also use this route.

Mr Malhotra who accompanied the police team to Gwalior and is in Ludhiana today alleged that Jai Ram gave the rights to his agents in the country. CDs sent through trains and buses reached the agents in no time and within a couple of hours lakhs of prints were prepared.

A film made at a cost of crores of rupees is thus available to the consumer at a low price of even Rs 10.

A team of Kotwali police led by SI Surjit Singh had nabbed the accused. Talking to Ludhiana Tribune at Civil Hospital, Jai Ram claimed he was innocent and was being falsely implicated in the case.

He said Anil Malhotra had a personal rivalry with him as he had refused to pay him money. He said no one was arresting the real culprits who were operating from Kolkata and New Delhi.

Anil Malhotra said the Delhi police had already acquitted him of the charges of demanding money from Jai Ram.



MC plan to clear encroachments
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 30
In the wake of rampant encroachments, both temporary and permanent, in almost the entire city, and the flow of vehicular traffic even on main roads becoming nightmarish, the Municipal Corporation has drawn up a comprehensive action plan to come down heavily on the defaulters. To be put in action from Monday, the plan is expected to yield immediate results, the civic administration claimed.

Giving details, the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, told Ludhiana Tribune that a survey of permanent encroachments such as misuse of parks or other vacant sites of the civic body, unauthorised extensions of residential or commercial premises towards road side, public streets or footpaths was being conducted on a war footing in all the four zones of the city, which would be completed by Monday. The drive for clearing encroachments would commence immediately thereafter.

As far as temporary encroachments were concerned, four strategic commercial areas each in all the four zones had been identified where rehris and pharis and street vendors operated in such a manner that caused inconvenience to the members of public and impeded the traffic movement. In the initial phase busy commercial areas like Chaura Bazar, CMC road, Field Ganj and Daresi road in zone A, Samrala road and Shingar Cinema Road in Zone B, Gill Road and surrounding localities in Zone C, College Road, Cemetery Road, Ghumar Mandi and Bindraban Road in zone D would be under focus.

Seven Inspectors, 27 members of supporting staff and adequate police force had been deployed to make rounds of the identified areas in two shifts from 7 am to 10 pm using six vehicles provided to keep a vigil so that street vendors and rehri-phariwallahs did not obstruct traffic and the movement of people on roads and streets.

The staff responsible for anti-encroachment drive had been explicitly told to lay emphasis on preventive action rather than punitive action. The MC chief admitted that the problem of encroachments in the city was gigantic and ought to be tackled at various levels. “While the MC will ensure strict enforcement to rid the city of the menace, cooperation of the people at large to achieve this objective will lend a lot of force to the campaign.”



Another tale of betrayal by NRI
Kanchan Vasdev and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Siarhh (Ludhiana), May 30
The glitter and glamour of life in foreign lands forced a couple of this village to marry their innocent daughter to an NRI, who is struggling to overcome the pangs of betrayal, fighting for her rights even after more than five years of her marriage.

Gurcharan Kaur, a 28-year-old-girl of this non-descript village near Mandi Ahmedgarh, is unfortunately among hundreds of girls suffering at the hands of their NRI husbands, who are left for an uncertain future on their own land.

During these five years, she had to undergo mental torture before finally coming to terms with reality that her husband had finally left her and there was no chance of her reunion with him. Now she is fighting a case for compensation and sustenance money for herself and her four-year-old-son.

In December, 1997, wedding bells rang for her with dreams of a better life. The boy, Avtar Singh, had visited Ahmedgarh from Dubai. A village girl married in Ahmedgarh persuaded the parents of Gurcharan to marry her off with him. Hoping for a heavenly life in the tinsel world for their daughter, Kirpal Singh, a small time mechanic and his wife, Gurmel Kaur, took only 10 days to send her daughter with the much sought after NRI driver.

The dreams have turned sour for her now. The reality of life has shaken this mild girl, who is scared of her future. For the last many months she has been moving from pillar to post seeking compensation from her husband but to no avail. Despite the fact that Punjab State Human Rights Commission had directed ADGP (Crime) to conduct an inquiry into her case, which was marked to SSP, Sangrur, no headway has been made into the case.

Talking to The Tribune today, Gurcharan said that she had made countless rounds of the offices of SHO, Ahmedgarh and DSP, Malerkotla, but nothing came of it. For the last three days, she had been visiting the office of the Khanna police and is not aware of her fate in the case.

“We have not got a very positive response from the police officials. If they have to record our statement they could call us once or twice but they are summoning us almost everyday. What should we do now?’’ said Gurcharan.

Recalling her tale of woes she said that her ordeal began just a few months after her marriage to Avtar Singh. Two months after her marriage, Avtar had left for Dubai promising her that he would be calling her there shortly. After he left she got to know that she was expecting and a son was born to her in 1998.

Avtar came to India at the birth of his son and left after two months promising once again that her papers were being prepared and he would be calling both of them. Back home her in-laws started harassing her. ‘‘Everytime my mother-in-law used to tell me that I did not bring a car in dowry even though I had found a ‘‘precious catch’’. She used to quote me instances where the good-for-nothing-boys were given luxurious cars by their in-laws. I was helpless. I did not say anything but decided to return back to my village. I did so soon after that.’’

At that time she was in contact with her husband, which was later snapped. ‘‘Perhaps my in-laws provoked him against me. Suddenly his phones stopped ringing and he changed his phone number too. We searched his phone numbers from his friends in India. But he was not there for me anymore. My in-laws say that he might have remarried there as he was not in contact with them also. But I know he is constantly in touch with them. ’’ She has now contacted Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of Lok Bhalai Party, who has been taking up the cause of such desolate women, to help her fight her case.

Gurcharan is teaching in a private school in her village and drawing a salary of Rs 500 per month. ‘‘My future is uncertain. I cannot live my life with mere Rs 500 a month. Who will look after me and my son after my parents? I cannot be a burden on them also ’’ she added. 



Parties gear up for panchayat poll
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
With one month left for panchayat elections scheduled to be held on June 29, various political parties have already started mobilising their workers.
While the two main Akali factions owing allegiance to Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra are awaiting the formal announcement of unity, hectic activity has already started in the ruling Congress.

Since panchayat elections hold important significance for the government, it is learnt that the Congress is taking these elections too seriously.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is learned to have been taking keen interest in these elections since these are going to set a trend for the next general election.

In the face of an imminent unity between the factions led by Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, which is a forgone conclusion, it is going to be an uphill task for the Congress.

Moreover, the rural areas, where the panchayat elections are to be held, do not offer much hope or promise for the Congress.

Given the importance of these elections and their likely impact, the Pradesh Congress Committee has geared up its workers to ensure a good show.

Even the officers posted in different parts of the state have been sounded to ensure closed coordination with party workers.

The PCC is likely to start the process of the selection of candidates shortly.

Given the stakes involved, the choice of candidates is going to be a very difficult task for the party as many heartburns could be caused after the selection of candidates.

To avoid this the party is learnt to be contemplating to bring out the list of candidates in the later stages only when the electioneering would have picked up.



’84 riot victims threaten immolation
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
Unhappy over the decision of Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) to allot the houses, in which they are presently living, to the general public, the victims of 1984-genocide, staying in the local Danga Peerat Colony, have finally decided to set themselves ablaze outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister on June 3.

Stating that they were left with no other option, the riot victims said that they would gather in the local colony on June 1 and leave for Amritsar from there to perform an ardas for the persons contemplating self-immolation against the notification.

Mr Surjeet Singh Saluja, president of Danga Peerat Society said that they would leave for Chandigarh on June 2 from Amritsar. On June 3 morning they would set themselves ablaze outside the CM's residence. He said that they would move in a convoy and would take along victim families from various cities, including SAS Nagar, Patiala, Khanna, Rajpura, Jalandhar, Bathinda and Phagwara.

The riot victims had been living in these houses belonging to PUDA for the last more than 18 years and PUDA had recently advertised that the houses, which were reserved for the victims, would be allotted to the general public.

They said that more than 18 years after they were forced to leave their homes in different parts of the country, history is going to repeat itself that they would be homeless once again. They said that while their wounds would never heal, the state government, instead of coming to their aid, has only added insult to their injury by not fulfilling a number of promises made by the then state government and the successive ones as well.

Living in the colony in Urban Estate Dugri here, the affected families had been eagerly awaiting the promised allotment of 929 houses, 100 shops, 500 ration depots besides compensation and proper employment opportunities, when the decision of PUDA dashed all their hopes to the ground.

‘‘We would not allow PUDA to do this to us. If the authority would not withdraw the announcement we would immolate ourselves outside the chief minister's residence. ’’said Mr Surjeet Singh.

While narrating their hair-raising tales, an old couple Kesar Singh and Ravel Kaur and their neighbour Rajinder Kaur said that they had already run from their homes twice. Once the partition of the country in 1947 forced them, and when they had almost forgotten the ordeal, the anti — Sikh riots took place, thus, displacing them for the second time in just 37 years. ‘‘Now its PUDA who is making designs to make us homeless once again.’’

According to Mr Gurdev Singh, chairman, Danga Peerat Welfare Society, Punjab, the victims were more disturbed by the attitude of the government towards their sorry state. He added that the government had given them these houses in 1984 and had inserted an advertisement in various newspapers inviting applications from the riot victims to rehabilitate them. He claimed that all the formalities were completed at that time and the latest plan of PUDA had come as a surprise for them. 



PSEB assures uninterrupted power supply
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
Assuring that there would be no unnecessary power cuts in the urban areas, particularly to the industrial sector, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman, Mr Y.S. Ratra said the board would ensure at least eight hour of regular power supply to the agriculture sector during the paddy season. The Chairman said, the agriculture sector would not be let down at any cost during the paddy season.

Mr Ratra was addressing a press conference after a review meeting of the central zone of the board. He said that the government was committed to the power supply in keeping with its policies towards the agricultural sector. He said the supply would start from June 10 and would continue for a period of over three months.

About the industrial sector and power supply to the urban areas, Mr Ratra said the board would try to ensure that there were minimum power cuts. He disclosed that the PSEB had tied up with neighbouring states like J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttranchal for power supply as these states usually had surplus power during the summer.

He said, Punjab produced 730 millions units of electricity every day out of which 330 million units were produced from hydro projects and the rest from the thermal units. He said, the board had made all arrangements for regular and uninterrupted supply by supplementing the local production with purchases from other states.

Mr Ratra said, the PSEB was already taking steps like reducing power thefts, increasing efficiency and ensuring a better quality of power supply in the state. The PSEB deficit which had already fallen from Rs 1400 crore in 2001-2002 to Rs 591 crore in the last financial year would be further brought down to Rs 350 crore by the end of the current financial year ending March 31, 2004.

Mr Ratra, however, evaded the question as to whether a four time hike in the power tariff and withdrawal of free power to the agriculture sector in this period was a main cause of this fall in the deficit. Mr Ratra did not agree that the tariff hike was unjustified. He claimed that the power tariff in Punjab was still less as compared to certain other states in the country.

The PSEB chairman also made it clear that privatisation of board was certainly in the offing as the days of monopoly were already over.

He said before embarking on privatisation, the PSEB would not ignore the interests of the government, the PSEB, its employees and the consumers. He said that they had already learnt a lot from the failings of other states and would not let these be repeated here. 



Book on Sikh history released
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
“While I was in ICCU ( intensive cardiac care unit) in 2000, the answers that I had been looking for came to me in a flash. Since my childhood, I had wanted to know about the real identity of Guru Nanak and why he gave his mantle to Guru Angad. Now I felt that Guru Nanak was telling me that all answers were in Guru Granth Sahib,” said Dr Kuldip Singh, a Sikh scholar, talking exclusively to Ludhiana Tribune.

His book, “Maulik Sikh Itihaas”, was released by Mr Raja Singh, Chairman, GRD Academy, on the academy’s premises today. Mr J.S. Duggal, Principal, introduced the author to the august gathering.

Dr Kuldip Singh is a former Professor and Head of the Radiography Department, CMC, Ludhiana, and a former Professor and Head of the Department of Surgery, PGI, Chandigarh, besides a visiting cancer consultant at Mohan Dai Oswal Hospital, Ludhiana. Dr Kuldip Singh also became the President of the Institute of Sikh Studies. He is the founder trustee of the Satyamev Jayate Trust.

Dr Kuldip Singh said when he was five years old, he could read Punjabi fluently. He read a magazine, “Amrit Phulkari” at that age. He was so much influenced by the magazine that carried stories about Sikhism that he told his parents that he wanted to be baptised. Taking along 11 other boys, he got himself baptised.

In the book, he has interpreted events of Sikh history from a scientific perspective. Dr Kuldip Singh felt that he had written the book under the guidance of Guru Nanak himself. He has not treated Sikh history as mere recording of events but discussed the factors that have shaped it. The book is a critical study of Sikh history and the development of Sikhism.

Dr Kuldip Singh said the Gurus wanted Sikhs to study Guru Granth Sahib and live according to its teachings. The book discusses in detail as to who Guru Nanak was according to Guru Granth Sahib and what was his mission. It also discusses the objectives with which the Panth was formed.



Fire damages stocks in oil store
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
Stocks, packing material, fixtures and furniture were damaged in a fire which broke out in the first- floor godown of an oil store in Bute Shah Mandi in the old city this afternoon.

Four fire engines of the Municipal Fire Brigade, which arrived at the scene within minutes of receiving information, brought the fire under control before it could spread to the ground floor and adjoining buildings which were having huge stocks of edible oil. Congestion in the market posed problems for the fire-fighting staff.

The fire was suspected to have been caused by a short circuit, according to sources in the Fire Department.



Adeeb International honours NRI
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 30
The Adeeb International (Sahir Cultural Academy) organised a function at Punjabi Bhavan to felicitate Mr Surjit Ghumman, an NRI and managing director of digital radio station “Radio Punjab — UK London” here yesterday. The function was presided over jointly by renowned Punjabi poet and president of the Punjabi Sahit Academy, Ludhiana, Mr Surjit Patar, and Shiromani Urdu Sahitkar and general secretary of the Adeeb International, Dr Kewal Dheer, and Prof M.S. Cheema.

A special Adeeb International Award was presented to Mr Surjit Ghumman for his outstanding services towards the promotion of Punjabi language, art and culture in Europe. Eleven literary and cultural organisations of Punjab also joined hands in felicitating Mr Ghumman.

Dr Kewal Dheer, while speaking on the occasion said Mr Ghumman had made remarkable contributions towards promoting Indian culture. Prof Cheema said he was the real ambassador of Punjabi culture.

Mr Surjit Patar praised his efforts towards spreading the message of love and universal brotherhood.

A poetical symposium was held after the felicitation function, which would be broadcast from “Radio Punjab — UK London” later.



Dharna against hike in royalty rates
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
Thousands of labourers working with sand miners may be get unemployed as certain contractors have hiked the rates of royalty being charged on each truck. This was stated by members of the Lal Jhanda Mazdoor Union while staging a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office here today.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Amarnath Koomkalan, president, CITU, said the contractors had hiked the rate of royalty from Rs 140 per truck to Rs 500. This had led to the hike in prices of sand and hence there were no takers for the same. The has forced the labourers to sit idle.

Quoting the Contract Labour Regulation Abolition Act, 1970, Mr Koomkalan said the attendance register of labourers working in this sector should be maintained. 



Two postal employees held on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 30
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau today claimed to have arrested two postal employees under the Prevention of Corruption Act on the charge of taking bribe from a migrant labourer to open his account at the Focal Point branch post office.

This is probably for the first time that the Vigilance Bureau has laid its hands on Central Government employees. Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, SSP, said all employees working in Punjab, irrespective of the department they belonged to, fell under the jurisdiction of the Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Sandhu said a migrant labourer, Pawan Kumar, had complained to Vigilance officials that two employees of the Focal Point post office were demanding a bribe of Rs 500 for opening his account at the post office. A postman demanded Rs 200 to sign as a witness for opening the account.

The SSP said the Vigilance Bureau raided the post office and caught Assistant Postal Officer Rajinder Singh and postman Sukhdev Singh while they were taking bribe from the labourer. Mr Diljinder Singh, DSP, headed the Vigilance team.

It may be mentioned here that the Department of Posts in the city has been in the thick of a controversy for the past sometime regarding harassment of migrant labourers in post offices. Several of them had complained that the money orders they had despatched to their families in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar had not reached there.



Attempt to rape minor
Our Correspondent

Khanna, May 30
A resident of Goh village at the Khanna Sadar police station allegedly tried to rape a minor girl of the same village 5 km from here, last evening, according to the police.
The police has recorded the statement of the mother of the victim, an eight-year-old girl. She alleged that at about 6.30 p.m. Jaswinder Singh ,son of Deva Singh, allegedly lured the girl into a room on the pretext of giving her toffees. When she entered the room Jaswinder Singh bolted it from inside and attempted to rape her. The girl raised an alarm. On hearing her shouts villagers reached the spot and were able to save her, but the suspect was able to escaped.

Later, the suspect got himself admitted at the local Civil Hospital with a head injury. The suspect is under observation at the hospital. The police was not allowed to arrest him, sources said.



Akali leader’s son murdered
Our Correspondent

Khanna, May 30
Amrik Singh Rauni (42), son of an Akali leader, was murdered at Rauni village near his fields late last evening.
According to the police, the son of Mr Bharpur Singh Rauni, president of the Payal circle of SAD, was coming home when on the way Jarnail Singh, his son Gyan Deep Singh and two others youths allegedly attacked him with an axe and sticks. The victim received serious injuries on his neck and died after some time.

A case has been registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC against the four. SSP, Khanna, Parmjit Singh Sarao said that one of the suspects named in the FIR has been rounded up. A property dispute is stated to be the reason behind the murder.



Top taxpayers honoured
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, May 30
Three top income taxpayers of Amloh subdivision were honoured during a function at Gymkhana Club here last evening. Those honoured were Dr Gurpreet Kaur of Gurpreet Nursing Home Mandi Gobindgarh (professional category), Mr Vikas Bansal of Jolly Steel Corporation (business category) and Mr Parshotma Garg, Assistant Manager, Quality Control, FCI Amloh (salaried category).

The function was chaired by Mr Varinder Mehta, Joint Commissioner, Income Tax, Patiala, and Mr R.S. Mathoda, Commissioner, Income Tax, Patiala, was the chief guest. Mr Rajiv Dutta, president, Chartered Accountants Association, welcomed the chief guest and Mr A.G.Arora, Assistant Commissioner, Mandi Gobindgarh, thanked him and the other invitees.

Speaking on the occasion, councillor J.P. Sharma, general secretary of Steel Chamber, said the TDS cut scheme on steel, imposed by the Income Tax Department with effect from June 1, would have an adverse effect on trade and the industry. He suggested that an incentive scheme should be introduced for those businessmen who paid maximum tax.

Mr Mathoda asked the representatives to discuss the matter at his office at Patiala next week. Later, talking to the media, he said Rs 470 crore had been collected as tax last year. Inspector S.P. Chand said Gobindgarh town alone paid Rs 14.5 crore as income tax last year, which was 20 per cent above that for the previous year.


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