Monday, August 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Woman killed, 3 robbers arrested
Gutsy couple foils robbery bid
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
A woman was killed and her husband was seriously injured by four armed robbers in a failed robbery attempt at the house of an Industrialist in Block-L of Model Town today early morning.

Showing exemplary courage, the middle-aged industrialist, Manjit Singh, and his wife Simi fought three of the four robbers and succeeded in catching one of them despite suffering multiple stab injuries. Manjit Singh is owner of Batra Plastics Industry in the city.

The woman later succumbed to her injuries and the man was admitted to Gur Tegh Bahadur Hospital here in serious condition. The couple’s eldest daughter, Ginny(12) displayed presence of mind and called her uncle on phone.

The Model Town police, also responded well by arresting two of the other three absconding robbers from different places in the city within hours of the incident.

The family consisting of the couple, their three children and parents woke up to a dreadful morning when shrieks of the woman, Devinder Kaur, alias Simmy, were heard at about 4:45 a.m. She was grappling with the robbers. Three robbers were inside the house while the fourth one, unknown to the family was outside, as revealed by the police later.

Manjit Singh came to the aid of his wife. Both succeeded in thwarting the robbers’ attempt and forced two of them to flee. Despite being struck on his abdomen and arms and seeing his wife collapse due to the injuries the man managed to hold the third robber, who was later handed over to the police.

He was identified as Ashwani Kumar. He was given a good beating by neighbours and relatives of the family, who had reached the house by that time.

According to Mr Tara Singh, he used to go to a gurdwara daily at about 4:30 a.m. Today he left one of the doors open and the robbers entered the house from there. The robbers seemingly knew about this and were waiting in an under-construction building situated behind the house. This was revealed by the robber who was caught by the family.

They entered the house and were about to open the almirahs when the woman, Simmy, woke up and raised an alarm. She was stabbed by one of the robbers but continued fighting with them.

In a press conference held later in the afternoon, DSP R.K. Bakshi and Mr Harvinder Singh, SHO, told mediapersons that three accused had been arrested. They have been identified as Ashwani Kumar, Mohinder Pal and Vicky. The fourth accused, Mohinder Singh who was alleged to be the main conspirator was, however, still at large.

Police officials said robbery was the main motive of the accused. The accused were produced before mediapersons. They said they wanted to make fast buck. They attacked the woman as she had woken up and raised an alarm, they added.

Mohinder Pal and Vicky are residents of Ambedkar Nagar here. They were neighbours. The others, Ashwani Kumar and Mohinder Singh were also neighbours and lived in New Janta Nagar. The police officials said they learnt about the hide outs of the other accused, Ashwani Kumar. The police said it was the first crime of the accused and they had no criminal record. Further investigations were on.


Rights panel directs MC to maintain parks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Municipal Corporation Ludhiana (MCL) to ensure the proper maintenance and preservation of parks and green belts in the city.

Directing the Commissioner of MCL in particular, the PSHRC has asked him to take long and short term measures to ensure proper maintenance of parks so that the inhabitants of the city can have full benefit of the well maintained public open spaces. The commission has further directed the Principal Secretary, Local Government, to intimate the commission about the measures being taken within three months of the order.

In its orders, the commission has stated, ‘‘The commission shares the concern and anxiety of the public at large regarding the alarmingly high level of pollution in Ludhiana and the continuous deterioration and the degradation of environment. Unless immediate and concerted efforts are made people would be made to suffer disastrous consequences. Quality of life would become unsustainable. Under Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the right to dignity of life has been accorded special position. There can be no proper dignity of life if we allow unchecked pollution and environmental degradation.’’

The commission has further directed the Principal Secretary to look into the specific demands of the complainants regarding the non-payment of their dues to be paid by the MCL for the maintenance of parks. Government can take appropriate view independently and separately if the Municipal authorities had failed to take note of the government instructions dated February 15, 2000 while executing the contracts with the Park Management Committees clearly indicating that the maintenance would be done at the rate of Re 1 per sq. meter, added the commission. It has also asked for the submission of action taken report by December 19.

The commission had taken cognizance of the matter in May this year after a complaint from Mr S.S. Chana, president of Park Management Committees, on behalf of the Federation of Park Management Committees. It had been contended that due to haphazard and unplanned growth of industries in Ludhiana the city had virtually sunk into a slum where quality of life was hard to come by. Pollution is rampant and all pervasive. No attempt has been made by the authorities to provide clean and wholesome environment. The local authorities have viciously neglected the maintenance of parks and green belts which have been converted into dumping grounds for garbage. The cattle and pigs roam around freely making it almost impossible for the residents to make any use of the so-called “Green Lungs”.

The complainants had also stated that Mr S.S. Sandhu, the then Commissioner, MCL, had shown rare vision in initiating certain steps and schemes for the recovery and resuscitation of the dying parks. He came out with a scheme under which 400 parks of Ludhiana were leased out to Park Management Committees mostly consisting of senior citizens, ex-servicemen and NGOs for their proper maintenance and up-keep. Bilateral contracts were signed with the committees clearly stipulating that the Corporation would be paying at the rate of Re 1 per sq. meter of the area.

As per the complainants, they had executed the work of upkeep and maintenance of the parks with a sense of missionary zeal and had succeeded in imparting altogether a clean and fresh look to the public parks which were earlier nothing but pictures of neglect.

The grouse of the complainants was that notwithstanding the work done by them they had not been paid their service charges as stipulated in the bilateral contracts. They are required to be paid Re 1 per sq. meter of the area for the service they rendered for maintaining the parks.


Old man brings home teenaged bride
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 24
An over 60-year Sikh farmer from a nearby village has changed his religion to marry a teenaged Muslim girl.

Surjit Singh, a Jat Sikh of Akbarpura Chhanna village near here, is now Sajid Khan. He has a young bride in his house, whom he got married to after converting to Islam. The marriage, which was solemnised a fortnight ago, angered many in the village. The bride Afsana belongs to Okhra Jatmalpur village in Darbhanga district of Bihar.

Sajid and his ‘men’ were in high spirits today when Afsana asked a group of Muslims from nearby Rohira village led by Maulvi Noor-e-Alam not to meddle in her affairs. Sajid says: “Afsana’s parents and relatives came here and stayed with us, after nikah, which was performed at Okhra Jatmalpur in Bihar on August 8”.

Sajid said a woman from Afsana’s village arranged the marriage. “Her parents put no other condition, except conversion to Islam which I agreed to. I got my hair cut at Darbhanga and changed my name. I am sure, my old age will be safe in her hands”.

Afsana said her father Mohamad Izhar has been raising five daughters and three sons, on a meagre income from a cloth shop. “I am satisfied with what my parents have done for me. My parents are grateful to Sarvari, for having got me married to a ‘well off’ person who is not a ‘kafir’ now”. Afsana denied having knowledge of any price paid by her husband to her parents.

Neela and Mewa, both younger brothers of Surjit Singh, alias Sajid Khan admitted to having had a scuffle with Surjit Singh, on some petty issue, which resulted in a fracture on his right arm.

The maulvi of Masjid at Rohira village, said since Surjit Singh, alias Sajid, could not show proof of his nikah, they believed Afsana, who is a major.


Ravi Inder likely to head DMCH
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 24
Dr Ravi Inder Singh, who recently retired as Director, Research and Medical Education (DRME), of the Punjab Government is being tipped to succeed Dr S.C.Ahuja as Principal of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital.

It may be mentioned here that Dr Ahuja had tendered his resignation and his notice period got over last month. The management of the DMCH, however, requested Dr Ahuja to continue to head the institute till the admission to MBBS course got over. Dr Ahuja again asked the management to relieve him on August 19.

The president of the managing society, Mr Brij Mohan Munjal, is understood to have pressed upon Dr Ahuja to help the institute in finalising the admission work till August 31.

Dr Ravi Inder Singh is reported to be away on a foreign tour. He has earlier served as Principal of Government Medical College, Patiala, and Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot.

Ms Kiran, wife of Dr Ravi Inder Singh, is also likely to join the DMCH if he is appointed the Principal. She is currently the Head of the Department of Biochemistry, Government Medical College, Patiala.


‘Govt buckling under pvt transporters’ pressure’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
Even though the Punjab Roadways KM scheme buses have earned huge profit for the state exchequer, yet the government was allegedly buckling under the pressure of private transporters and closing down the scheme.

This was claimed in a press conference organised here today by the Punjab Roadways Transporters Association. Mr Bhag Singh Bhaura and Col. Harcharan Singh, president and general secretary, respectively, of the association said nearly 100 of the existing fleet of buses had already stopped plying due to government's apathy. As a result of this, the state was incurring a loss of Rs 6-7 lakh and missing more than 40,000 km daily.

Giving details along with supporting documents, they said the government had hired 150 buses under KM scheme in August 2000 out of which 13 buses had been repossessed by the financiers because the owners of these buses could not meet the day to day expenditure and pay installments.

These buses have earned a net profit of Rs 6.92 crore in 2.5 years. While the Punjab Roadways’ fleet of 1600 buses has incurred a loss of Rs 98.4 crore in a year. These differences of profit and loss were due to low running cost (Rs 9.05 per km ) of KM scheme buses and high running cost (Rs 21.8 per km ) of Punjab Roadways fleet. In spite of this very low running cost and high profits the state transport directorate had not extended the agreement which was not fair.

As per the agreement, these buses must run for a period of another five years. But due to the apathy of the state transport department 100 buses of this scheme have already stopped plying and others were on the verge of stopping.

The loss incurred by the roadways directly adds to the private transporters’ kitty. These transporters have also created a lobby in the state transport office department to harasses the KM scheme operators which was forcing them to sell their buses. The Director of state transport has made a proposal to decrease the existing rates of Rs 9.05 to Rs 8.25 per km on PRTC pattern and allow only ad hoc extension which was not fair. As decrease in rate by PRTC had made the KM scheme unviable and the PRTC KM Scheme owners had started selling their buses ; till now out of 105 buses 25 buses have already been sold by the bus operators and others were being sold due to heavy losses. So the decrease in the rates on this pattern was not viable, it was stated.

Mr Bhanwra said the government could not compare the KM scheme of PRTC and Punjab Roadways. The Punjab Roadways KM Scheme bus owners had purchased the bus chassis at Rs 5.98 lakh per chassis. While the PRTC owners had purchased at Rs 4.5 lakh per chassis. Similarly, roadways bus owners had also spent Rs 50,000 more than PRTC owners due to enhanced price. Thus they had spent Rs 2 lakh extra which when added to the capital cost comes out to be Re 0.30 per KM.

The payments of PRTC KM Scheme are made with in a week of the submission of the bills while the payments of Punjab Roadways KM Scheme were delayed by two to four months due to the unscheduled closer of treasury. Thus roadways owners had to spend Rs 4000 per month as interest money, which was equivalent to Re 0.40 per KM.

In PRTC, the bus operators were allotted more than 500 KM while Punjab Roadways buses were allotted 330-450 KM on daily basis.


Railway, sales tax men on collision course
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
Officials of the Railways and the Sales Tax Department appear to be on a collision course as some manufacturers and traders are allegedly trying to evade sales tax by adopting alternate routes to transport their consignments.

Traders reportedly do not send their consignments directly from the Ludhiana railway station. Instead, they use other railway stations in the periphery and the outskirt areas like Khanna, Sahnewal, Gill and Model Gram railway stations. The sales tax officials normally remain concentrated at the main Ludhiana railway station as the bulk supplies go from here only and are not able to check this.

Since this happens to be the peak season, hosiery goods worth crores are dispatched from Ludhiana through rail to different parts of the country. In order to ensure that there is no evasion of sales tax the officials maintain a constant vigil at the railway station.

Recently, the Sales Tax Department officials seized hosiery goods worth over Rs 2 lakh from the Model Gram railway station.

This reportedly led to the Station Master registering an FIR against the officials of the Excise and Taxation Department. The Station Master had alleged that the excise officials forcibly lifted the goods. On the other hand the excise officials alleged that the railway officials were in league with the sales tax evaders as consignments had been booked without checking the valid receipts and sales tax numbers.

Moreover, the excise officials led by Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr T. R.Jindal, have been regularly monitoring the movement of goods. But as the volume of the goods being transported is massive, even the excise officials find it difficult to monitor all movements properly.

The excise officials have been seeking cooperation from the manufacturers and the Railways in this regard.

Interestingly, railway officials refused to share any blame and alleged that the excise officials were trying to pass the buck to save their faces. They claimed that all formalities were being fulfilled before booking any consignment for transportation.


Punjab Beopar Mandal writes to Chief Minister
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 24
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh is likely to convene a meeting of the trade and industry during the next few days to discuss the issue of exim forms.

The meeting is being arranged by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Mr H.S. Hanspal. A delegation of the Punjab Beopar Mandal had met Mr Hanspal last week.

Meanwhile in a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani today urged him to postpone the implementation of the exim forms and discuss the issue with the trade and industry before implementing the same. Mr Jaitwani has pointed out in his letter that earlier efforts to implement various types of forms including C form and St-XXII forms had failed to provide any relief to the trade and industry. The sales tax barriers were abolished. Later the same were again set up as information collection centres.

Mr Jaitwani has maintained that the information collection centres should be closed if the exim forms were to be implemented. The exim forms should not apply to the export goods and inter state movement of the goods as the same would cause delay in the movement of the goods. Mr Jaitwani had also drawn the attention of the Chief Minister to the unprecedented hike in the steel prices which has badly hit the small scale industry and urged him to take up the same with the prime minister to save the small industry.

The Beopar Mandal President further reminded the Chief Minister about his promise to abolish octroi and sought immediate action on the same.


J&K minister hopeful of boost in tourism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
Buoyed by a relatively good response from tourists this year, the Jammu and Kashmir Government is optimistic about an increase in the inflow of tourists to the Kashmir valley in the near future. The government is also planning major tourism-related projects in the state, particularly along the national highway, to attract more tourists.

Stating this here last evening, the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Minister, Mr Ghulam Ahman Mir, said it was an encouraging sign that the recently concluded Amarnath yatra had been incident-free. The minister said 40 per cent of the domestic tourists who visited the Kashmir valley this year belonged to Punjab.

Mr Mir said there were several positive indicators towards peace in the state. He said since tourism was the mainstay of the state economy, the government was laying more emphasis on it. The minister said the government was negotiating with some multinational companies to provide special facilities for tourists.

He admitted that 13 years of militancy had ruined the tourism infrastructure in the state and a lot of reconstruction was needed to be done. He assured that although it would take some time, the revival of the tourism industry was imminent. He said the government had constituted a high- level committee headed by a senior state government official to study various proposals submitted for the revival of this industry in the state.

Mr Mir said a lot of Punjabis visited Vaishno Devi and they could be encouraged to go further to the valley. They can go for pilgrimage and also spend some days in the hills, he observed.

He stated that the state government was hosting a two-day world conference of tour operators in Srinagar on September 5 and 6. A delegation will represent the state at a similar conference to be held in Malaysia from September 20 to 22.


City Scan
Gratitude and homage
M.S. Cheema

Ludhiana, August 24
Recently, the Nation celebrated the 56th Independence anniversary. By and large, it was ritualistic, a repeat of last years. Also over-politicised, courtesy impending Lok Sabha elections. Shifting of focus from patriotism to politics, is a sad pointer.

Ludhiana is mini India in many respects. We try to discover the hidden, yet inspiring, face of Ludhiana, since 1947. We owe a debt to great sons and daughters, martyrs and makers, poets and artists, servants of people and civil servants of rare merit. Besides, alumni who glorified their alma-maters at national level, even international heights.

Rousseau wrote,”Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid.” So, we are thus duty-bound to pay. Adds the revolutionary genius of France,” but which none has the right to expect.” Subjects, being in peace, don’t ask for it. We bow to their memory. Paying a homage, all in gratitude.

Master Karnail Singh (Issru) fell to the Portuguese fire in 1955. Major Shivdev Singh and Captain Vijay Sehgal sacrificed their lives during fight for Goa’s liberation. Valiant Nirmaljeet Singh Sekhon (Issewal), Bhupinder Singh (Hodson Horse) and many others shed their priceless blood. Gen. T.N. Raina (COAS), Lt. Gen. G.S. Buch won high decorations. Col. A.S. Cheema stood as first ever Indian Everester. In sports Padmashree Prithipal Singh (Hockey), Brig Dalip Singh (Athletics) outshine to glorify.

From the legends we see Bhagat Puran Singh (Rajewal-Khanna), Dr Edith Brown (Kaiser-e-Hind) founder of CMC&H, Dr B.L. Kapur (Berlin-Lahore fame) raised what is currently the Kapur Memorial Hospital, Dr Sham Singh founded the DMC & Hospital with sound patronage of Mr H.R. Dhanda, philanthropist (Syndicate fame). Dr Shivdev Kaur, Dr Sham Singh Dhillon, Dr Chaman Lal Sial such others are our pride as healers.

Among the chief ministers we recall our debt to Mr Partap Singh Kairon (PAU/ Industries), Justice Gurnam Singh as Judge CM and, High Commissioner), Lachhman Singh Gill (Mini Secretariat, Link Roads), Beant Singh (A fighter for peace). Among the scientists, Dr Satish Dhawan is matchless.

Our heart goes to rare ones who built institutions in rural Ludhiana. Bibi Harparkash Kaur (Sidhwan), Sant Ishar Singh Ji (Rara Sahib), S. Bakhtawar Singh Gill (Gurusar Sudhar), Dr Isher Singh (Doraha), Mr Ajmer Singh (Bondli-Samrala). In the city S. Bishan Singh Anand and S. Sant Singh (Gujjar Khan Campus), Giani Bhagat Singh (Ramgarhia Campus), Mr Ram Lal (Arya College), Miss S. Sen (Government College for Women and Khalsa College for Women). Mr Joginder Singh, P.P, built Malwa Institutions and more. He founded the Ludhiana Improvement Trust, housed agricultural and G.N. Engineering Colleges. In the industrial sector, we recall persons standing as father-figures: Mr Nihal Singh Pahwa (Avon), Shree B.C. Munjal (Hero), L. Ram Lubhaya (Ralson), Baba Gurmukh Singh (G.S. Autos), Shree Charndass - Nand Kishore (Pearl), Mr Nauharia Singh Kalsi (Nandpur). They are epitomes, symbols.

In the sphere of arts, literature and culture we have rare persons. Dr Sher Singh (Founder, Punjabi Sahit Academy), Bhai Jodh Singh (Builder of Punjabi Bhawan). Among poets/writers we have Sahir, Prof Mohan Singh, S.S. Sekhon, Sohan Singh Seetal. We are proud of Harkrishan Lall, legendary painter. Specially indebted to great civil servants. Mr P.N. Thapar (Founder of PAU) and Dr M.S. Randhawa (Maker of Rose Garden). Gen Mohan Singh (INA). Mr S.P. Mittal served the longest term as MP (Rajya Sabha) and raised Nehru Sidhant Kender. Mr Mewa Singh won a rare honour, as MP opened the budget-debate thrice on behalf of the Leader of Opposition. Mr Mehar Singh Grewal (Kila Raipur) and Amarjit Singh Grewal (Gujjarwal) were great sports patrons. Yamla Jatt and Narinder Beeba are living legends. They deserve portraits in the Hall of Fame whenever built.


Khud Mohalla fire victims remembered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 24
The victims of the Khud Mohalla fire incident were remembered at the end of an Akhand Path at Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, Guru Arjan Dev Nagar, here yesterday.

Next of kin of 16 persons who died in the fire and most of the 100 persons who were injured in the fire were honoured by the gurdwara management at a function. Teams of doctors from various hospitals that treated the injured were also honoured at the function.

Among those who attended the function were Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, former president of the SGPC, Mr Surinder Dabar, MLA, Mr Pritpal Singh, president, Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Mr Gurmel Singh Sangowal, Member, SGPC, Mr Kishan Singh, president, Gurdwara Shaheedan, Mr Ateeq-ur-Rehman, Mr Pritam Singh, SP (City), Father Karnail Masih, Mr B.M. Fredrick, Mr Gurdeep Singh, member of the local gurdwara committee, Mr Inderjit Singh, chairman, Gurdwara Chhevi Patshahi, Bibi Surjit Kaur of Istri Akali Dal, Mr Gurbachan Singh, president, Kalgidhar Gurdwara, Dr John Abraham, Medical Superintendent, CMC Hospital, Mr N.S. Chahal, and Ms Sudesh David, Nursing Superintendent, CMC Hospital.

Mr Kulwant Singh Dukhia, president, Gurdwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, thanked the gathering. A langar was also held on the occasion.


Punjabi Tribune readers’ meet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
A readers’ meeting was organised by Punjabi Tribune at the local Punjabi Bhavan today. Various speakers highlighted the contribution of the newspaper to the development of society.

Mr Shingara Singh Bhullar, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, presided over the function. During his address he exhorted the readers to come up with healthy criticism and suggestions for the improvement of the paper.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, was the chief guest. Prominent among those present included Mr Sham Singh, News Editor, Punjabi Tribune, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister.


NRI writer felicitated

Ludhiana, August 24
A function was held at Punjabi Bhavan here today to felicitate NRI writer and Editor of the Khabarnama Iqbal Singh Ramoowalia . The function was organised by Baba Farid International Foundation.

Ramoowalia received higher education from Canadian University and was teaching English in Canada.

Dr Surjit Patar, Mr Gurbhajan Singh, Prof Nirmal Jaura and Mr Jaswant Singh Chappa , president of the foundation, also spoke on the occasion. OC


Minister’s apology sought
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
The Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) has flayed the utterances of Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh equating the sacrifices made by Guru Gobind Singh with those of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president of the outfit, said the minister had committed blasphemy for the sake of pleasing his political masters. He alleged that the minister had hurt the religious sentiments of the people. Unless the minister tenders an unconditional public apology, he will be greeted with black flags at all his public meetings, Mr Grewal said.

He alleged that the government was doing little to stop the birthday celebrations of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.


Saplings planted
Our Correspondent

Ms Varsha Rampal, councillor of Ward No. 41, plants a sapling along with residents at a vanamahotsavaLudhiana, August 24
Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, Councillor of Ward No.41, organised vanamahotsava in the main park behind Imperial Hotel.

A number of saplings were planted with the help of Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana. Ms Amrit Varsha said in two localities of Sarabha Nagar and Gurdev Nagar , a lot many saplings had been planted under her supervision earlier too. Tree guards were also provided for the safe growth of the trees. She also urged the residents of these localities to take care of these plants.

Ms Varsha Rampal, councillor of Ward No. 41, plants a sapling along with residents at a vanamahotsava on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph



SBI club holds functions
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 24
The SBI Ladies Club here organised three community services banking activities today.

The club honoured 14 toppers at RS Model School, Model Town, Extension, by giving them cash awards. Later fruits and eatables were distributed among 650 inmates of Nishkam Sewa Samiti Schools at Daad village.

Another function was organised at Bal Bhavan, Sarabha Nagar, in collaboration with the SBI Gurdev Nagar wherein bed sheets, gifts and eatables were given to the students residing in Bal Bhavan run by the Red Cross Society, Ludhiana.

Meanwhile, Mr Yogesh Aggarwal, inaugurated the new premises of the SBI Zonal Office today. Earlier, he distributed loans worth Rs 15.10 crore to 320 beneficiaries.


ABVP office-bearers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 24
Office-bearers of the local unit of the ABVP has been announced by Mr Kamal Jeet Singh, state joint secretary, yesterday.

The office-bearers are: president — Rajat Sood; secretary — Rohit Sharma; vice-presidents — Arun Lomas, Rajesh Marwaha, Atul Sood, Mukti Bhujyan, and Aakash Deep Sehgal; joint secretaries — Nitika Garg, Manjeet Kaur, Dilpreet Singh, Prabhat Shukla and Vikas; office secretary — Amitoz Khera; cashier — Mohit Goyal; and members — Sanjeev Chouhan and Richa Goyal.

The president and the secretary of all the colleges are the members of the city unit.


Liquor seized

Ludhiana, August 24
ASI Jaspal Singh has arrested Balbir Singh of Bhaini Gujran from Barral village and seized from his possession 15.180 litre of illicit liquor. The accused has been booked under the Excise Act at Sidhwanbet police station. OC


Do banks flout security norms on ATM ?
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 24
Banks in the city are allegedly flouting security norms with regard to the automatic teller machines (ATMs) that offer round-the-clock facilities, putting bank customers at risk each time they access the machine.

Though the banks have adopted the ATMs on the pattern of banks in the West, not a single ATM in the region has a surveillance camera in the booths to record activities of those who enter. To top it all, banks are least bothered about the number of persons who get into the ATM booth at one time, exposing the clients’ personal identification number (PIN) to all present in the cabin.

In the ICICI Bank branch at Feroze Gandhi Market, the ATM in charge found six persons inside the ATM booth while the security guard was away for lunch on Thursday afternoon. Similarly, HDFC and other private banks have put up two or more ATM machines in the same booth, creating a security risk.

“What the banks consider convenience for its customers actually becomes a serious threat. By no stretch of imagination can you allow more than one person into the ATM booth at one time for security reasons”, says Capt T.P Singh (retd), who runs a security agency.

Another ex-serviceman, Major Vinod Kumar (retd), says, “Once you have entered your ATM card into the machine and punched in your PIN, anyone present in the booth can overpower you and withdraw the money in your account”.

He says that in Western countries, cameras monitor and even record all activity inside ATM booths to detect and prevent crime. “Any suspicious activity is recorded and the culprits identified. But here in banks like the HDFC on the Mall Road, there are two ATM machines side by side which are placed in gross violations of the security norms”.

Banks are required to have doors that only allow people with a swipe card inside. Each person using the ATM must have his own swipe card. The ATM card mostly doubles as a swipe card. Most ATM booths have glass doors that have no provision for a swipe slot. Also, every ATM booth is supposed to have a telephone. While some booths do have telephones, there are hardly any that work.

In the USA, there is an Act called the ATM Safety Act, which is applicable to all federal and state chartered banking institutions (including credit unions) which operate ATM facilities. They are required to provide certain facilities that comply with specified standards designed to ensure the safety of customers utilising such facilities. India does not have any such law as yet.

The requirements for ATMs under this law make it mandatory to have “surveillance camera or cameras that view and record all persons entering an ATM booth located within the interior of a building, or all activity occurring within a minimum of three feet of the front of an ATM located outside a building. Recordings made by such cameras should be preserved by the banking institution for at least 30 days”.

“The ATMs must also put up reflective mirror or mirrors to permit a person entering the booth to view areas that are otherwise concealed to plain view”, the Act states.

As per the safety norms, banks must record all activity in the ATM booth by one or more surveillance cameras. Customers should close the door completely upon entering or leaving, customers should not permit any unknown persons to enter after regular banking hours and the customers should place withdrawn cash on their person before leaving the booth.

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