L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Kabootari racket victims reeling under debts
They sold off property for greener pastures abroad
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, November 17
Blinded by their sheer desperation to go abroad, the 11 victims of the infamous desi-kabootari racket have not only lost their only means of survival here but are reeling under heavy debt now. One bird in hand is better than two in the bush. The meaning of this adage has dawned upon these victims only after they had put everything on stake in search of greener pastures abroad.

Some sold off their land and jewellery while others put their houses and agricultural fields on mortgage in order to arrange Rs 15-20 lakh for paying off to the accused in the racket, who had promised them emigration to Canada on marriage visa. The desire was so strong that some of the victims even sold off buses, tractors and combines, which were providing them sufficient bread and butter here.

Apart from these, the victims borrowed money from their relatives, took loans from the banks and the ahrtiyas on heavy interest. All on one hope, “ Kakke ne ja ke dollar bhej dene phataaphat.” (Son will send dollars as soon as he reached Canada). As if it was very easy to earn in Canada.!

The Tribune met some of the victims of the racket with just one query. How come they had the means to arrange over Rs 15 lakh for sending someone abroad but not the same zeal to use that money and do hard work for living here?

The scene at the houses of the victims was pathetic. Planning for celebrations as the youths were awaiting the call to emigrate to Canada , the scene at the houses was that of a mourning. The relatives were so shocked that they were still pinching themselves to believe the rude fraud played with them.

Though the victims were devastated at the financial loss as well as the loss of face in society, some of them still believe that if the youths had landed in Canada, everything would have been fine.

The case of one of the victims of the desi-kabootri fraud, Balbir Singh of Haripur village in Jalandhar district was the worst. According to the police file, Balbir Singh in his statement to the police revealed that besides in order to pay Rs 17.59 lakh to the accused for getting married to an NRI girl, he even sold off his two buses. Besides this, he took loan from relatives and banks for the remaining amount. All that has been lost now.

Gurpreet Singh of Moga, who was the first to complain to the police about the fraud had sold off a tractor and a combine to arrange the amount of over Rs 17 lakh for paying to the accused. He mortgaged 12-acre-land with a financier and took a few lakhs of rupees on loan. He took obligation of some relatives and gathered Rs 2.5 lakh. Another Rs 2.5 lakh he took on credit from an ahrtiya. The devastated youth even attempted suicide at being cheated in such a manner.

Gursharan Singh of Chak Kalan village near Mullanpur Dakha revealed to The Tribune that in order to send his nephew, Harmandeep abroad, he got in the trap of the accused. His nephew was living with him since childhood and he had brought him up like his own son. Harmandeep had remained in Philipines for two years but could not become a permanent resident of that country and returned to India.

The marriage offer with a Canadian girl provided them with a hope. He took a loan of Rs 2 lakh each from two financiers by mortgaging his property. He took money from his relatives and youth’s parents based in Malerkotla arranged money in similar manner.

‘‘There are no employment opportunities in India’’, said Gursharan Singh, when questioned about the matter.



Measles stalks city
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, November 17
Even as the dengue threat has not vanished fully, the menace of measles has gripped the city. More than 21 cases of measles have come to light from the slum area in the Pakhowal Road area in the past 24 hours.

Two serious patients were admitted to the Civil Hospital here today by a survey team of the Health department.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted said a team of doctors of the Health Department had visited the affected area. “A 16-year boy was admitted at Civil Hospital yesterday. Two more serious patients have been admitted in the hospital today.

The health workers are finding it a bit difficult to tackle because due to superstitions, many area residents are reluctant to visit hospitals. They are being given vitamin A. There are about 200 jhuggis in the area and the vaccination of the residents is also being done”.

The DC had received a call that cases of measles had come to light from the mandi area of Pakhowal Road and he had asked the Civil Surgeon to look into the matter.

The two children admitted in the Civil Hospital are brother and sister. The boy, Krishna, is almost three years old and Parvati, his sister, is two. The condition of both children is said to be stable.

Dr B.K. Jain, Professor in Pediatrics and president of the state unit of the National Neonatology Forum, said measles was a viral infection. The immunisation of the child should be done within the first nine months. Another dose of MMR is given to the child at the age of one year and three months.

He stressed that the affected children should immediately be isolated or it could affect others also. The affected child should be given light meals and his towel, handkerchief and other such items of personal use should not be used.



Another girl duped by NRI husband
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Lamma Jattpura, November 17
Her parents had thought of a better life for her in the land of opportunities. But fate had something else in store for her. Today, the 23-year-old girl of this village has suffered dejection at the hands of her NRI husband and is fighting for justice.

Kuljit Kaur, an undergraduate girl, who had to leave her B.A. final midway as her parents had found a “good” match for her, learnt after two-and-a-half-years that her husband was already married and he never lived in Germany as claimed by him.

Her husband, Jasmer Singh of Gakhal village in Jalandhar, has absconded. The German Embassy has written a letter to her, stating that he had never migrated to Germany. He stayed with the girl for six months after marriage and then went away, never to return. The family spent Rs 10 lakh on her wedding ceremony and her in-laws had taken more money from her parents on the plea that they had to buy a ticket for her to Germany.

The father of this eldest girl of the family, thinking that the future of his other children will also be brightened if she went abroad, kept succumbing to the monetary demands of her in-laws. Little did they realise that all the money they had spent would go waste.

Kuljit stayed at her in-laws’ house till early this year. She had to come back as they kept pressing her for more dowry. “At the time of my betrothal ceremony, the groom had asked for a Zen car. Though my family was shocked at the demand, they gave him a cash of Rs 3 lakh on the spot. I had no courage to resist as the girls of our family have to follow what the elders say. Moreover, I never knew he would betray me like this,” she said with tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Now his brothers who stay near Jalandhar say that they do not know anything about Jasmer Singh as he has disappeared. They told me that he was already married before getting married to me,” she added.

The match was made through a marriage bureau which had charged the family Rs 50,000. They had given 30 gram gold, garments worth Rs 2 lakh and spent Rs 1 lakh on the marriage palace. The family had not inquired about the antecedents of the groom as the match-maker had claimed that he was a “very good boy.”

The girl had met the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr M.S. Chhina, who directed the police to register a case against her husband and in-laws. But the family alleged that the police was not able to do much as her husband had absconded.

Kuljit’s brother said , “They did everything hurriedly as the boy’s family had said that he was here for only a little time. This is the ply used by the NRIs who want to dupe innocent Indian girls. So, the families should always inquire about the boy and his family if they want to marry their daughter to an NRI.”



Ravneet, Maxwell were married
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
The Australian immigration racket has taken a new turn with the police recovering documents proving the marriage of the main accused 73-year-old Australian citizen, Maxwell Moore, with 25-year-old Ravneet Kaur.

Despite tying the knot, they had made marriage vows with two youths of the district and taken money from them on the pretext of sending them abroad.

The girl and the Australian citizen, who were already under custody for the alleged fraud case, have been claiming that they were not married. But documentary evidence in possession of the Haibowal police here reveals that the duo were married after the Punjab and Haryana High Court did not support the rejection of their marriage registration certificates by the district administration, Ludhiana.

A search at the residence of the couple here led to the recovery of the marriage certificates. This compounds the case against the duo.

Till now the police was shown documents by the duo that their marriage registration plea was rejected by former Ludhiana District Magistrate Anurag Aggarwal. The couple had then approached the High Court questioning the rejection of their application. It has only now come up in police investigation that the duo had actually got their marriage registered.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, SHO, Haibowal, confirmed that the police had got the documents of their marriage. ‘‘They were keeping everybody in the dark but now the proof is in black and white,’’ he said.

Police sources said the girl was desperate to return to Australia and had married Maxwell, who was allegedly supporting her financially.

They were booked first by the Khanna police for duping two youths of Ismailpur and Rajewal villages in this district last month. Sukhdev Singh of Ismailpur village had alleged that Ravneet Kaur had promised to marry his son Ravinder Singh and take him to Australia. She took Rs 3.30 lakh for the bargain.

She, however, never kept up the promise and kept on delaying the marriage. Ultimately, she broke off the engagement and got engaged to Balwinder Singh of Rajewal village and took Rs 4 lakh from him also.

She allegedly duped the second youth also and went missing. The youths complained to the police and cases were registered against them.



Farmer’s SOS to ministry for son’s rescue
Tribune News Service

Ahmedgarh, November 17
Devastated at the arrest of the main breadwinner of the family who was duped by a Chandigarh-based placement agency, a mentally-challenged senior citizen and farmer of a nearby Babla village has written to the Minister of External Affairs to impress upon the Canadian Embassy and the Delhi police to adopt sympathetic attitude towards his son.

The youth, Sarnjit Singh, was arrested by the Delhi police on a complaint of the embassy after the placement agency hoodwinked him by sending him for an interview there with forged papers.

Even though the main accused in the case have not been arrested and one suspect got bail, the youth is languishing in Tihar Jail and his family is suffering. The family had suffered a huge financial loss in the bargain.

Mr Bikker Singh (62), father of the youth, said the cheating by the placement agency has put the very survival of the family in tight spot. “They did not just take money from us but have taken away the very means of our survival. That is the extent of damage such frauds played by placement agencies can do.”

He said, “I had to borrow huge amount to make my eldest son Sarabjit able to support my family, including two daughters and two sons. When Sarabjit got attracted by an advertisement issued by the agency specialising in jobs in Merchant Navy, I had to arrange Rs 5 lakh instantly, Rs 4 lakh demanded by the agency and rest for miscellaneous expenses. But instead of getting a job at Montreal in Canada he landed in jail as the appointment-cum-contract letter issued by the agency turned out to be forged one.”

The Chanakya Puri police station has booked Sarbjit under Sections 468 and 420 of the IPC. Preliminary investigation by the Delhi police had revealed that Sarabjit had been victim of Bikram Singh Laddi and Gurpreet Singh Sakhi who were running a placement agency at Chandigarh, he added.

Sukhvir Singh, another aspirant seeking a high-profile Merchant Navy job, had paid Rs 3 lakh to the agency. He later lodged an FIR against Laddi and Sakhi at the Model Town police station as the deal between the youths and the company was finalised at a hotel in Ludhiana.

Bikker Singh said his only hope was that the ministry would come to the aid of his youth and prevail upon the embassy to withdraw the case.



Mann for recognition of PSGPC by SGPC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today demanded the recognition of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC), besides the constitution of other gurdwara Parbandhak committees the world over.

Mr Mann said here today that Pakistan had set up a rare precedent by allowing the Sikh minority to form their own politico-religious body in the country. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) should pass a resolution over the issue at its meeting scheduled for November 20 at Amritsar, he added.

Mr Mann said his party had submitted a memorandum to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the SGPC, in this regard. He called for the formation of a special committee by the SGPC to look into the entire gamut of issues relating to the functioning of the Jathedar and the creation of a secretariat for the Sikh institutions.

He said a deputation of his party would meet the Punjab Governor, Mr O.P. Verma, and would bring ‘misdeeds and corrupt practices’ of the SGPC to his notice. He also demanded that the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, should be amended to make the elections of the SGPC mandatory after every five years.

He said the role of the SGPC in the appointment and dismissal of Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht and other Takhts in the recent past had brought ignominy to the Sikhs. ‘‘This could only be undone by formulating a system and setting up of parameters and guidelines for the appointment, qualifications and dismissal of Jathedars,” he added.

“A number of scholars, including former Chief Justice Harbans Singh, Dr Jaswant Singh Neki, and Kashmir Singh, Head of the Law Department, Guru Nanak Dev University, have done substantial work in this regard and the SPGC must study the proposals” said Mr Mann, adding that the views of the DSGPC, Takht Hazur Sahib, Takht Patna Sahib, the Jammu and Kashmir Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Singh Sabhaas, Sikh seminaries and those of the Sikh diaspora worldwide should also be taken in the consideration by the SGPC in the decision making.



Coloniser accused of multi-crore fraud
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 17
A local coloniser and property developer, who also owns land in Ayali Kalan adjoining the Sidhwan canal, has been charged with cheating several city residents by selling hundreds of acres of land in the form of plots in the name of a PUDA approved colony. In the process, the coloniser is alleged to have amassed hundreds of crores of rupees.

Persistent attempts to contact the directors or the managing director of the VHB group proved futile as nobody was available for comments.

In a complaint forwarded to the Punjab Chief Minister, demanding a high-level inquiry into the matter, Capt J.S. Kular (retired), a resident of South City Phase II, has maintained that the VHB Group had obtained a licence from PUDA for the development of 150 acres of land. But the company purchased huge chunks of land from farmers around the designated colony and the undeveloped plots, carved out of this land, were sold to unsuspecting buyers.

Mr Kular claimed that the company had sold around 350 acres of land with a estimated profit of Rs 140 crore without obtaining any licence from PUDA for these chunks of land. He further said even the 150-acre land, for which it had obtained the licence, was not fully developed by the company.

“Not only the coloniser, but the PUDA authorities are also to be blamed for this. It appeared that PUDA has no mechanism for the enforcement of the Punjab Apartments and Properties Regulations Act, 1995, under which licences are granted to colonisers for the development of residential and commercial sites and complexes,” said Mr Kular. He said he was told by senior PUDA officials that copies of licences granted to the VHB group and site maps of the land to be developed were not available with them.

Mr Kular urged the government to order a probe into the whole affair to unearth the truth and the extent of fraud and take suitable action against the guilty.



LBP takes up cases of 39 youths in Pak jails
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
The president of Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) and former union minister, Mr B.S. Ramoowalia, today said that he would soon be handing over a list of 39 Punjabi youths detained in Pakistani jails as illegal entrants to the Pakistan High Commissioner in India, Mr Aziz Ahmed Khan.

Mr Ramoowalia claimed that he had drawn the attention of Pakistan High Commissioner towards the detention of innocent Punjabi youths in Quetta and Lahore jails during an informal meeting with him at New Delhi recently. He had stated that these persons were the victims of fraudulent agents and were allured for lucrative jobs in Greece, where they were caught and pushed into Turkey, then Iran and finally into Pakistan and were sentenced to 3-months imprisonment on September 17.

He claimed that he had also explained in detail to him how an illegal immigration racket was thriving in Punjab and elsewhere, financially ruining thousands of gullible families. He cited many such examples like the Malta boat tragedy in December, 1996, followed by large scale arrests of illegal Indian entrants in Malaysia, Ukraine, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Syria and Lebanon and scores of other countries. He said economic compulsions and utter lack of job opportunities here are the main factors making Punjabi youths fall prey to deceitful Indian travel agents and their foreign conduits for taking illegal routes to seek employment abroad, and that his Lok Bhalai Party was committed to socio-political-issues has constantly been taking up this human-smuggling issue with concerned quarters. He further said that as a mass awareness campaign and to press the need for stringent penal action by law-enforcing agencies, his party is staging a peaceful dharna on December 19 at Jalandhar.

While echoing his concern, the Pakistan High Commissioner said that his country is also facing similar problems with scores of Pak nationals languishing in foreign jails, and he assured Mr Ramoowalia of his sympathetic consideration and that of his government, claimed the LBP leader.

Of the detained 39 Punjabi youths, 33 belong to Punjab and 6 to Haryana. Their case has already been taken up by Mr Ramoowalia with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on November 2.



BJP South Mandal office-bearers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 17
The Bharatiya Janata Party, South Mandal (B) president Mr Balraj Singh, has nominated new office-bearers with the approval of the district president of the party, Dr Subhash Verma.

The office bearers are: Vice-presidents — Mr Satbir Aggarwal, Mr Pradeep Rathi and Mr Hargobind Tiwari; — general secretary — Mr Harish Tandon; secretary — Mr Subhash Verma; — Mr Ram Niwas Dubey, and Ms Sudesh Kumari; treasurer — Mr Vijay Bansal; and media in charge — Mr Praveen Sharma. Mr Tara Chand Mittal, Mr Hukam Chand Kumra, Mr Sat Pal Rana, Dr Ashwani Bassi, Mr Sat Pal Kaka, Mr Tejinder Pal Singh, Mr Harbans Lal Saini, Mr Karnail Singh, Mr Kashmira Singh Mundi, Mr Sikander Lal Kapoor, Mr Ramesh Kumar, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Mr Tehal Singh, Mr Ramesh Kalia, Mr Kulbhushan Sharma, Ms Devinder Kaur, Ms Hoshaiar Kaur, Ms Shashi Bala, Mr Suraj Jyoti, Mr Kewal Krishan and Mr Ramesh Dhawan have been nominated members of executive committee.



PUDA holds draw of lots
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
As per the reservation policy of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), the local authorities held a draw of lots for 136 plots in Sector 33 on the Samrala road in front of PUDA Complex here today.

The applicants were invited to attend the draw through a public notice. It was held under the chairmanship of Ms Rakhee Gupta Bhandari, Additional Chief Administrator PUDA. The applicants present on the spot themselves drew the slips from the boxes. The names of successful candidates were announced by Mr Sudarshan Kumar Sharma, Estate Officer, PUDA. Plot numbers were also announced.

The successful applicants were told to fulfil the necessary formalities as per the terms and conditions of the policy of PUDA and to complete construction on at least 25 per cent of the plot within 60 days of the issuance of allotment letter.



Applications received

200 sq yards



250 sq yards








3 of family injured in mishap
Our Correspondent

Khanna, November 17
Three persons of a family, including a woman, were injured in a road accident near Kauri village on Monday. All three injured were admitted at the local Civil Hospital.

Rohit, who was injured in the accident, said he was going to Jalandhar with his parents who had returned from Paris. He said when they reached near Kauri village, a truck turned without giving any signal, due to which their car rammed into the truck. He said his father Yashpal and mother Savita also received injuries in the accident. The police has recorded their statements.



Girl child’s body found
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
The recovery of the body of a day-old infant caused quite a scare in Laadian village, near Haibowal, this afternoon.
The infant, a girl child, was found dead, wrapped in a towel, near the village pond by some villagers. They raised alarm and almost the entire village gathered at the spot.

Though no clue of the killing of the child has been established so far from the body, the police is not ruling out infanticide. A case was registered at Haibowal police station on the statement of village Sarpanch Ranjit Singh.



Hosiery sales up as mercury dips
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
With the day temperature witnessing a sharp fall of about 10° during the last one week, hosiery sales have started picking up. Quite contrary to the cynicism prevailing among the hosiery manufacturers, till the recent past, who were seeing their stocks piling up, there seems to be some hope at long last.

While the maximum temperature recorded on last Sunday (November 9) was 30°C, only the next Sunday it was just 20°C, a sharp fall of 10°. The weather experts said it was unprecedented as usually the temperature falls gradually. Added to it was the rainfall yesterday which also pushed the temperature down further, forcing the people to shed off their summer wear and switch over the warm and cosy attire.

Bitten by last year’s bitter experience when even the December went warm and dry, the hosiery manufacturers appear to be relatively optimistic but cautious at the same time. They maintained that it depends as what turn the weather will take in the coming days. In case the temperature hovers around the 20°C for at least one week more, only then can they expect a bumper sale.

The cool temperature has warmed up all small as well as big manufacturers. Chairman, Sportking, Mr Raj Awasthi, feels that the relatively earlier winter obviously promises very good days for hosiery. Although brands like Sportking are not hit much by the vagaries of the weather, yet “the more cold means more sales”. Mr Awasthi said that counter sales are also pushed up to a great degree by the fall in temperature. Sportking has a widespread network of exclusive showrooms in the entire North. He hoped that this winter will bring cheer to the hosiery manufacturers as last year the winter had proved to be too short.

Small-time manufacturers, who mostly depend on the sales in the local market, are also very upbeat over the early arrival of the winter. Mr Kimti Lal Jain, another leading hosiery manufacturer, said, although the sales were yet to pick up, the manufacturers were quite hopeful that they will be able to clear most of the stocks. He said unlike last year, the winter had arrived early this time much to the relief of the manufacturers.

Mr Santosh Kumar Jain of Arun Hosiery Manufacturers maintained that the manufacturers expected the weather to remain like that. He said in case it continues for a week or so, the sales would be pushed up further. He said the reports from retailers had revealed that there had been a sharp rise in the demand during the last three days.


Warning against dual steel pricing
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 17
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab has cautioned the Central Government against the alleged designs of the main steel producers who are trying to have dual pricing for the steel in the country.

In a letter to the Secretary Steel, Mrs Binno Sen, Mr P.D. Sharma, president of the chamber, has opposed the dual pricing for steel and sought a ban on all incentives to the steel manufacturers in the shape of incentives for export.

Mr Sharma has maintained that the producers were exporting steel at a low price and selling the same at high rates in the domestic market, as a result of which the small and medium-scale industries were adversely hit.

Mr Sharma has pointed out that the bicycle manufacturers had failed to absorb the hike in the steel prices and the cost of production of bicycles had gone up to Rs 1,100. The steel producers were trying to justify the hike in prices by taking the case of car manufacturing where the steel component was only 5 per cent.

He disclosed that due to the high price of steel, major manufacturers of finished goods were resorting to import of the component from China and other countries. This would further destabilise the small units producing such components.

Mr Sharma called upon the government to bring in the MRTP to control the alleged monopoly of the steel producers and exploitation of the smaller units. He was also critical of the government for bailing out steel producers, particularly in the private sector.



Business Briefs
Gunjan wins Divali dhamaka prize
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 17
Ladies Footwear: Carlton London, an exclusive ladies footwear brand has come to city. Belonging to the Carlton Group of Companies, Carlton London is a hi fashion ladies footwear brand catering to the upmarket customers in London, Germany, the USA, Holland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.

Mr Baljit Virk, Managing Director of the Carlton Overseas Ltd, said unlike the men’s footwear market in India, the ladies footwear market did not have any exclusive hi fashion brand at the national level. He said, to fill this vacuum the Carlton London decided to launch the brand in India nationally.

Godrej No. 1, a growing soap brand of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd now is claimed to be the largest selling grade 1 soap in India.

Festival dhamaka: Five years old Gunjan has won a gold necklace of 10 tolas at the mega draw of the “festival dhamaka” scheme organised by Rikhi Ram Nand Lal self-service department store, Haibowal, and Rikhi Dry Fruits and Karyana Store, Dandi Swami Chowk. The lucky draw was held today in the presence of the local MLA, Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha, who also distributed prizes. The other winners include Raman of Kitchlu Nagar (Samsung airconditioner) Priya Gupta of Snagla Shivala Road (LG refrigerator), HK Kakkar (BPL colour TV) and Harbans Singh of Haibowal, (Bajaj geyser).


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