L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Another ‘desi kabootri’ racket surfaces
Jupinderjit Singh & Mahesh Sharma
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Close on the heels of busting of a “desi kabootri” racket by the Jagraon police, a similar scandal has now surfaced in Ahmedgarh. A large number of persons have been duped of lakhs by a gang operating from here, promising to sent them abroad after marriage with some NRI girl.

The marriages never took place and the accused absconded with the money. The gang won the trust of the gullible youths by making them talk over the phone to some NRI girl. The youths learnt later that the girl was at Ahmedgarh.

Three local residents, said to be the mastermind behind the fraud, along with several others absconding even as complaints pour in at the local police station. At least 12 persons have approached the police. Only one of them has lodged a complaint while another has succeeded, with police help, in getting his money back.

One of the main accused, Sumit Kumar, a physically challenged youth of ward 13, had been in contact with a number of marriage bureau owners, whose addresses he had taken from classified advertisements in major newspapers. He used to arrange marriages from Canada through these bureaus on commission basis.

Investigations by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the accused had been quoting a price up to Rs 10 lakh for sending anyone to Canada on marriage visa. Sumit had hired a PCO, situated in front of the local bus stand and opened a marriage bureau. He used to attract the youths through advertisements.

One of the victims, Mr Maghar Singh Brar, a retired electricity board employee, told Ludhiana Tribune that he had been duped of thousands. He had been trapped in an interesting manner. When he contacted Sumit on his mobile phone mentioned in an advertisement, he was asked to visit the bureau personally. While he was travelling by bus to Ahmedgarh, Amarjit Singh, another accomplice of Sumit, joined him and convinced him that the advertisers were an established organisation.

Narrating his story Mr Brar said, ‘‘Sumit Kumar claimed to be the owner of the spacious building, housing a PCO, a marriage bureau office and some other shops. My son has a Master’s degree in information technology The deal for his marriage was finalised for Rs 10 lakh and we paid Rs 50,000, for which Sumit signed a pronote witnessed by one Raj Kumar and another person present at the PCO at that time”.

Mr Maghar Singh further said the remaining amount was to be given in three instalments, Rs 3 lakh at the time of the court marriage, Rs 3 lakh at the Canadian Embassy after visa grant and the balance to be deposited in a joint account of Sumit, the bride and the bridegroom.

The victim, who was ready to part with his retirement benefits and sell a piece of land for the future of his unemployed son, now reported the matter to the local police. He said, ‘‘Though they had made me talk to a Canadian girl on telephone, I apprehend that she was a desi kabootri, who used to be present in the PCO normally, but used to disappear when Sumit used to make me talk to the Canadian immigrant. I was told that her visit to India was delayed because her mother had caught the infectious disease SARS at that time.” Mr Brar sought action against the three accused.

Enquiries at the police revealed that similar complaints had been received from residents of Baghapurana, Bhawanigarh, Patiala and places in Ludhiana district. Parents of Amarjit Singh, one of the accused, had returned money to Mr Gurdev Singh, a teacher at Chandu Wala near Baghapurana. His complaint, along with those of some others, had been recorded at the Sangrur police station, but no case had been registered so far.

Police sources disclosed that though the parents of one of the accused, Amarjit Singh, returned money to some victims, Sumit’s parents had shown their inability to pay a single penny. The owner of the building in which the PCO and marriage bureau office were located, said Sumit had duped him as he had not paid rent for the past several months.



Cancellation of CAT leaves students high and dry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
A large number of local candidates who appeared in the Combined Admission Test (CAT) today were left high and dry over the cancellation of the examination owing to the alleged leaking of the question papers in New Delhi today.

The cancellation came after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested four persons for allegedly leaking question papers of CAT for admission to the Indian Institute of Management (IIM). They were arrested from a hotel in Mahipalpur, south-west Delhi, while they were giving the papers to four candidates.

News of cancellation was broken to the candidates after they had finished the examination. Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, the students expressed shock at the cancellation of the examination. The students said they could not believe their ears when they heard the news that the examination had been cancelled and would be rescheduled.

Ludhiana Tribune contacted a number of students who had returned from Chandigarh after appearing in the examination. While most of them were dismayed at the turn of events, some were happy as they had not fared well in today's examination. "It's good for us that we will get some more time to prepare. The questions were difficult and as it was my first attempt, I got to know about the style of the paper without wasting my chance." said Maneet Kaur, a local BCA student.

Suneet Kumar, another student, said the leakage of the papers had breached their trust in a prestigious examination like CAT. "We had been preparing for the test for the past one year and had joined a coaching centre also. But if the papers are leaked, I regret that I spent so much time on preparing for these and put in a lot of hard work."

Many students said after coming to know of such rackets, they had lost all faith in the examination system of the country. "First it was a racket in the Punjab Public Service Commission, then it was about medical entrance and now it's about leaking of papers of CAT also. Where will we all go? We can't buy papers by paying lakhs of rupees," said Parul, another student.

Another student said they did not know when the examinations would be rescheduled now. He added that they would have to sit in the conditional examinations of colleges next month and they would not be able to sit for CAT if it was scheduled in December.

After the news came, the students sat glued to TV sets to know about the latest in the case. They even called up their friends to know whether they were approached by the gang responsible for leaking the paper.

The CBI said it was a nationwide racket and the gang was involved in leaking papers of other tests like the All-India Medical Exams, Central Board of Secondary Education, pre-medical and bank probationary officers. The decision of cancellation was taken after Union Human Resource Development Ministry contacted the authorities at the IIM, Ahmedabad, the coordinating body for the tests, which confirmed that the leaked papers matched the original ones.



‘Chakka jam’ passes off peacefully
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The ‘chakka jam’ stir, a call for which was given by the Shiromani Akali Dal in protest against the “fabricated” challans presented in the court by state Vigilance Department passed off peacefully with claims and counter-claims about its success by Akali and Congress leaders.

While the Akalis claimed that the response was huge, the Congress leaders termed it lukewarm. The district administration and the police claimed that it was a failure as traffic was not blocked anywhere in Khanna, Jagraon and Ludhiana. There was no incident of violence and no harassment to the commuters.

Interestingly, it being Sunday, the exact reaction of the masses against the challans could not be gauged as markets remained closed and there was much less traffic on the roads.

The police, in fact, did not give any chance to the Akalis to stop the traffic as the vehicles were diverted much before the Akalis staged their dharnas. The number of demonstrators was in hundreds at various places. The police did not make any attempt to stop the Akalis and allowed them to stage dharnas.

A large number of Akali workers staged an over three-hour-long dharna at Samrala Chowk here but it did not result in a ‘chakka jam’ as the district police had already diverted the traffic through alternative routes.

Another 300 Akali workers staged a dharna in protest against the challan presented in the court against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his family members at GT Road near the Malerkotla chowk in Khanna today.

A heavy police force was deputed on the chowk to tackle the situation. Police officials diverted the traffic to the second lane.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, MP, Bibi Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former ex-MP, Mr Jagjiwan Pal Singh, Mr Devinder Singh Khattra, Mr Bacahna Singh Cheema, Mr Bharpur Singh Rauni and Mr Jarnail Singh Shahpuri were prominent among those present.

At Chowki Mann, on the Ludhiana-Jagraon road, a few hundred Akali workers staged a demonstration.

According to a report from Samarala, on a call given by the SAD workers of the Akali Dal under the leadership of MLA Inder Singh Iqbal and member SGPC Kirpal Singh
Khirnian blocked traffic here on Sunday.

Others who addressed the demonstration included Jathedar Joginder Singh, Mr Ravinder Singh Mandi, Mr Gurcharan Singh Mithewal, Mr Kartar Singh Mehdudan and Mr Jagjiwan Singh Khirnian. The police diverted the traffic on link roads.



Dr Daljit Singh new DMCH Principal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Mr Brijmohan Lall Munjal, president of the managing society of the local Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, has appointed Dr Daljit Singh as Principal of the DMCH. Dr Daljit Singh earlier worked as Dean, Academics, and Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics. Dr S.C. Chopra, Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacology, has been appointed as Dean, Academics.

The decision was announced and conveyed to the senior faculty members and the administrative staff by the vice-president and the secretary of the managing society.

The faculty members expressed their happiness on the selection of the Principal and the Dean from the faculty of the DMCH. They promised to extend cooperation and assistance to the office-bearers and in return, Principal Daljit Singh and Dr Chopra assured all of them of their full involvement in taking the institution forward.



Congress terms SAD protest a failure
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Congress leaders today criticised the ‘chakka jam’ stir by the Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) against the filing of challan against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, his family members and close associates by the Vigilance Bureau at Ropar yesterday. They described the stir as a failure and claimed that there had been no response to it.

In a joint statement issued here today, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr HS Hanspal, the PWD Minister, Mr M.S. Bajwa, the State Minister for Jails, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, the local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, the Chairperson of Punjab Forest Corporation, Ms Harbans Kaur Dullo, and MLA, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, observed that the public was well aware that it was a personal case relating to alleged corruption by a single family, for which the entire state was being tried to be held to ransom.

They asserted that the ‘chakka jam’ had proved to be a flop show as it had evoked no response from the people. They said traffic on all main and link roads in the state remained uninterrupted and smooth and only a handful of Akali workers tried to sit on dharna at a few places, but failed to disrupt traffic.

These leaders maintained that it was for the first time in the history of Punjab that a political party had given a call for a traffic jam to save a corrupt leader against whom the charges of the highest level corruption had been submitted in court. They pointed out that the government had filed a chargesheet in court and had not arrested Mr Badal. They added that he and others were free to defend themselves by adopting legal procedures instead of resorting to unlawful, illegal and undemocratic activities.

They reminded Mr Badal that he had promised to quit politics and accept the corruption charges in case property worth a single penny was proved in foreign countries in the name of his family members and asked him to quit politics and prove himself innocent in court. They said in the past, no political party has launched such an agitation in favour of any leader facing corruption charges.

They criticised Mr Badal for giving communal colour to the corruption charges against him, by describing the charge sheet being submitted by the Vigilance Bureau having been prepared at the behest of the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi. They asked the Akali leaders to refrain from instigating the people for saving a corrupt leader and his family members, who had engaged in corruption during the tenure of the SAD government.

The Congress leaders appreciated the work done by the vigilance bureau in collecting the proof of the properties of Mr. Badal and his family members bought from the money collected by corrupt means. They said Capt Amarinder Singh had fulfilled the promise to the people during the elections of revealing properties amounting to Rs 3,500 crore by the Badals through the money collected through corrupt means.

They said properties worth more than Rs 4,300 crore in foreign countries and in India had been unearthed, advising Mr Badal to have faith in the courts and present his version to prove himself innocent. 



Eviction order opposed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The residents of economically weaker section (EWS) colony today staged a dharna in protest against the eviction of around 20 families by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) staying in 10 one-room-apartments for the last many years.

Alleging that some property dealers of the city, in connivance with some PUDA officials, had got the apartments in their name fraudulently, the Shiv Sena leader, Mr Rajiv Tandon, said the influential had not even spared the poor. He alleged that the flats were being resold at three times the actual price charged by PUDA.

Stating that they had been forced to spend nights on the roadsides, along with small children, the residents, who were mainly migrant labourers, said the PUDA authorities had forcibly thrown their belongings on the road and later sealed their houses.

They claimed that they had stay orders from a local court but the PUDA officials had refused to have a look at these. Satiram, a migrant labourer, said these families were issued yellow cards by the PUDA authorities in 1995 and the latter had claimed that the residents would be issued green cards within a period of three months. But nobody issued them the cards till date. They claimed that green cards were required for the allotment of houses in the EWS colony.

The migrants raised slogans against the PUDA officials and alleged that there was a mafia of some property dealers and PUDA employees who wanted to allot the houses to some persons after accepting some kickbacks. They alleged this was the reason why the requests of migrants were falling on deaf ears.

Vijay Kumar, another migrant labourer, said they were not even issued a single notice by the PUDA before evacuating them forcibly. He said as per the rules, the authorities were supposed to issue a notice asking the residents to vacate the house otherwise action would be taken against them. They said they did not even know what their fault was.

Another migrant labourer, Bahadur, said his family had been forced to spend the nights in the middle of the road after action by PUDA. He said it was very difficult to survive with small children in open in this cold weather.



The romance of Ludhiana

ROMANCE, they say, is the charm of a distance place and of time, too. Listen to some one talk of Delhi or Lucknow, Pune or Hyderabad. Those who have lived there, recall a mixed imagery. Despite the crude realities they faced, they retain some kind of associational aroma that excites an urge to revisit.

This is true of places that are distant or difficult to reach. Lahore, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi or Multan, fall in this category. A visit may be possible, but unaffordable due to economic factor. In this class is London or Paris, New York or Los Angeles. Let us recall the romance of Ludhiana, as it was 56 years ago.

In 1947, it was a town having a population of over one lakh. Some 70,000 refugees adopted it as their homeland. The Domoria bridge formed a border of outgoing refugees zone. Parts of Chhowani Mohalla and most of Shahi Mohalla were converted into a refugee camp. Passenger trains kept running and travellers homeless but hopeful, sat on train-tops.

The Army camping ground near the Jagraon bridge, parts of Rakh Bagh and open space on the GT Road provided space for temporary halt. Winter followed and people managed some kind of shelter. It was a period of loss and gain. Wounds of Partition and hopes of new India co-existed.

Ludhiana then had very limited means. The GT Road strip had an octroi post close to Mata Rani Chowk. The other post was by the main railway line, near the present Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib. Miller Ganj and beyond were out of the municipal limits. At the end of the Jagraon bridge on the Ferozepore road, the octroi post declared the limit. Towards the Samrala side, division no 3 marked the end.

The water supply was very limited. Piped water was a luxury. The Civil Lines had limited drains. Most of the mohallas had hand pumps and drawing out water pipes and sinking pumps flourished as a new trade. Dosehra and Divali went uncelebrated. Schools and colleges were closed. Bagh Sita Ram Singh (Gulmor) provided space to government offices and the DPI functioned here. No cinema shows were held. Raiky functioned first, Minerva followed Naulakha waited for long.

M.S. Cheema



MC Commissioner offers help to Jaycees
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
“The Ludhiana Municipal Corporation is ready to help Jaycees in all community projects. It will lend support to the organisation in its campaign on drug awareness, a menace in society,” said Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, MC, who was the chief guest during an installation meeting held by the Ludhiana City Jaycees here on Friday night at Ludhiana Club. He applauded the organisation for undertaking various community programmes and imparting training to youth on personality development.

Jc Dr Vivek Mahajan, zone president of Jaycees, said Jaycees was the largest global youth organisation which inculcated leadership qualities and imparted various training programmes like Focus for Future, Time Management, Effective Public Speaking, etc. Dr Mahajan was all praise for the new president of Jaycees, Mr Manvinder Kataria, who was given the Outstanding Jaycee award of Indian Jaycees at a national convention held at Mangalore recently. 



350 take part in dog show
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
It was not the cat walk that charmed the audience but the majestic gait of different varieties of dogs that caught everyone’s attention at the 9th and 10th dog show organised simultaneously by North Star Kennel Club, Ludhiana, along with German Shepherd Speciality Show as per the rules of the Kennel Club of India (KCI) at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar Chowk, Ludhiana. The main attraction of the dog show was the entry of Lord Vom Priced at Rs 30 lakh.

Since the 9th and 10th dog shows were going on simultaneously, two rings were formed. The judge for ring no 9 was Mr Charan Singh of Meerut while Mr PS Chauhan from Lucknow was the judge appointed for ring no 10. Mr Amar Iqbal Singh Bhinder was judge for the German Shepherd Speciality Dog Show.

Dr Haans, general secretary of the North Star Kennel Club, told this correspondent that there were more than 350 participants in the show. Dog owners brought their dogs from different parts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi. The sunny weather too helped to bring a large number of dog lovers to have a look at 35 different breeds of extremely well-groomed dogs.

Some of the varieties of dogs that took part in the show included the Irish Setters, the Retriever, the Doberman, the Great Dane, the Boxer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Some imported varieties of dogs, which had entered the show for the first time, were the crowd pullers. The dogs that participated for the first time are Titan Von Hasan Hause, imported from Yugoslavia and costs more than Rs 2 lakh. Another one to make the entry was Rottweiler from Germany. Its pups are sold for Rs 15,000 but Dr Haans said they did not sell pups at the dog show as they were not sure of their pedigree.

The smallest dog Chihuhua that could climb trees fascinated the people. The Himalayan Sheep Dog was fidgety and uncomfortable due to warm weather. Mr Bhupinder from Mohe, near Ludhiana, had brought five dogs for competition.

Mr Shiv Kaushal, an entrant in the Limca Book of Records 2000, for the best dog trainer had also brought in his well-groomed dogs for the competition. Surinder Kumar had come from Pathankot with his German Shepherd while Kuldip Singh, a local resident, proudly displayed his Napolean Mastiff.



Tributes paid to martyr Suba Sant
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Tributes were paid to martyr Namdhari Suba Sant Rattan Singh at a function organised here today. The PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, speaking on the occasion said Namdhari martyrs like Suba Rattan Singh and Sant Rattan Singh had made great sacrifices.

He said these people had dreamt of a corruption-free responsive democracy.

Mr Partap Bingh Bajwa, PWD Minister Punjab, paying tributes to the martyrs said the Congress government was committed to providing corruption-free rule. He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for a museum and an auditorium to be constructed in memory of the martyrs.



Cops clash in public,  1 injured
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
Three gunmen of Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Minister of Jails, Housing and Urban Development, clashed in front of a marriage palace on Pakhowal Road today, causing injuries to one of them.

One of the gunmen, Mr Gursharan, suffered injuries as the two others hit him with rifle butts. All three are from the Punjab police. The police has not registered any case. The injured cop was admitted to the civil hospital here.



Nagar kirtan held on eve of Martyrdom Day

Ludhiana, November 23
A massive religious procession was taken out from Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in connection with the Martyrdom Day of Guru Tegh Bahadur here today. There was no dearth of roadside langar and refreshment for nagar kirtan participants, largely schoolchildren, and for passersby.

Schoolchildren played their respective school bands. Several hymn-singing parties representing various religious organisations also took part. OC



One held for smuggling smack
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The Sarabha Nagar police has arrested an alleged narcotics smuggler and recovered 15 gm of smack from his possession. The police was hopeful that it would be able to recover more drugs from the accused after further questioning and investigation.

Acting on a tip-off, the police caught the man from the colony. The police had been on his trail for the past few weeks.



Opium seized
Our Correspondent

Samrala, November 23
The Samrala police has seized 13.02 kg of opium from the possession of Nahar Singh, a resident of Kubbe village. This was stated by Mr Dilbag Singh, Superintendent of Police (Detective), Khanna.



Enterprises Act opposed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 23
The Federation of Punjab Small Industries Association has expressed its strong opposition to the draft of the proposed ‘Small Enterprises (Employment Relations) Act, 2002’, saying it will not only have an adverse financial impact, but can pose a threat to the existence of small-sector units employing not more than 19 persons.

Mr Ved Parkash Chopra, president of the association, said yesterday that the proposed legislation would provide for a levy of 16 per cent contribution of total wages on the employer, 12 per cent of wages on the employees and another 2 per cent on the state government towards a social security fund to be created for the employees. As such, even a small unit, run by artisans, and employing a couple of workers, would be made to contribute 16 per cent of the total wage bill to the proposed social security scheme.

Mr Chopra, in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, stressed that small units, employing a few workers and located at small places should be kept out of the purview of the Act. These would not be in a position to cope with the complicated formalities and bear the additional financial burden and part-time professionals needed for the paper work and other formalities would not be available in small towns, he added.


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