L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Robbery victim faces police apathy
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
A Chandigarh resident has been suffering both mentally and physically for two weeks since he was tricked by a gang of highway robbers, who drugged him and looted Rs 2.86 lakh on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh highway early this month. He is suffering more at the hands of the Khamano and the Samrala police, that fall under the Khanna police district, which were allegedly dilly-dallying on registering a case on his complaint.

The victim, Manjit Manocha, a resident of the Punjab Engineering College campus, has prayed to the Khanna SSP, Mr Pramod Ban, to direct his staff to register a case.

Narrating his tale of woes to Ludhiana Tribune, he said he was given a strong drug laced on a biscuit by two persons from whom he had taken lift to reach Chandigarh. The drug was so strong that he could not gain his mental balance all these days.

Though the Khamano police had recorded his statement at a hospital in Chandigarh, no FIR has been registered so far.

He said he used to supply new currency notes to flower shops in Punjab. On November 11, he was in Ludhiana and got late. He could not find a bus and took lift in a car at about 11:30 p.m.

Besides one driver and his friend in the car, there was another passenger who was dropped at Kuhara village. The car driver stopped the vehicle at a dhaba on the road and offered him tea and biscuits. He only remembers that he had stepped into the car again and was then found lying on a road near Khamano.

He was carrying Rs 2.86 lakh cash, besides some important documents which were taken away by the robbers.

He was shifted to Chandigarh by the police, which recorded whatever he stated in semi-conscious state. However till date no case has been registered. He was told by the Khamano police that the Samrala police would register a case. When he went to the Samrala police it said the Khamano police would register the case. However, none has actually lodged an FIR despite repeated visits by the victim.

Manjit Manocha said he wanted the accused to be arrested immediately so that their other prospective victims could be saved.



2 car thieves nabbed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
The police today claimed to have nabbed two autorickshaw drivers-turned can thieves-cum-robbers and recovered stolen cars besides gold ornaments from them. The police claimed that their arrest would help them solve many cases of thefts and robberies committed in other states also.

The duo includes Gagan and Rajeev Kumar, alias Rajni Kant, both from Ludhiana who allegedly specialised in stealing cars and then used these as taxis to rob passengers. They allegedly stole cars parked outside marriage palaces at nights and then take them to Ambala. There they use these cars as taxis and rob passengers of cash and other valuables.

The police was surprised that the incidence of car thefts here had a link with highway robberies in Haryana.

The police recovered three Maruti cars, two gold rings, two wrist watches and a mobile phone set. One of the cars was allegedly stolen by the accused from outside the Milan marriage palace on the Kakowal road on November 20. A case was registered in this regard under Section 379 of the IPC at Basti Jodhewal police station.

According to Mr Pritam Singh, SP (City-II), Gagan used to perform recce of marriage palaces during day time and then steal cars parked outside at night.

He added that their modus operandi was such that they used to take the car to Ambala and carry passengers to Delhi. On the way, the two used to rob the passengers of cash and valuables. He claimed that their another accomplice, Makhan Singh, was also wanted in the case and search was on to nab him.

The SP said with the busting of the gang many cases of robberies committed in Ambala were likely to be solved.



MC plans to expand green cover
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
In a bid to make towns and cities in Punjab greener and to bring about a qualitative change in the environment, the Punjab Government has launched a massive plantation campaign with the involvement of local bodies. To achieve the desired results, a district-level committee with the Municipal Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, as its chairman was set up by the Local Government Department, Punjab.

According to Mr Sharma, after a series of meetings, the committee had finalised the "plantation plan" for the city under which it was envisaged to plant 61,000 saplings in the city during the current financial year in collaboration with educational institutions and non-government organisations. The committee had also decided to go in for plantation of medicinal plants so that apart from providing shade, city residents should also get other related benefits of these plants.

"It is a matter of great satisfaction that with the active involvement of educational institutions and NGOs, 62,415 saplings have been planted during the past two months thus raising the total number of plants in the city from 2.40 lakh in June, 2003, to 3.02 lakh till date. Continuing the drive with the same vigour, the MC intends to plant 15,000 more saplings in February, 2004, thus taking the total number of plants to 3.17 lakh."

The commissioner claimed that of all saplings planted in the city, only 2500 were purchased from private nurseries, another 16,000 were made available by the Forest Department and rest of them developed in the municipal nursery, spread over an area of 3 acres in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar.

In keeping with the approved plantation plan for medicinal plants, saplings of "Putranjeeva" were planted along the Ferozepur Road, 'bahuhinia blakeana' on the Pakhowal Road, "pterospermum acer folium" (kanak champa) on the Chandigarh Road, 'Pilkhan' on the G.T. Road and “chakrassia tabularis” on the G.T. Road.

Mr Sharma further said that to take further its plan of beautification, the MC had taken in hand the work on the Rs 45 lakh project for landscaping and beautification of seven-entry points and another sum of Rs 90 lakh had been approved for development and creation of facilities in 30 city parks.



Admn imposes Section 144 in city
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
The district administration here has imposed Section 144, Cr PC, in the city in view of the state-wide showdown being planned by Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) jointly at Ropar on December 1, to protest against the registration of cases against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his family members.

The SAD (Badal) president and former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been summoned by a Ropar court regarding the corruption case filed against him by the Vigilance Bureau. A challan was also filed against him last week after which the Akalis announced an agitation in the state.

As the Akalis and BJP workers would reach Ropar on the day, it has become a challenge for the local administration to ensure law and order in the city. A copy of the order imposing the section, signed by Mr Rahul Bhandari, Additional Deputy Commissioner, stated that keeping in view the present circumstances, the district administration has banned the assembly of five and more persons at a public place and organisation of rallies in the city. The orders have come into force from today and would remain implemented till December 28.

Sources in SAD and the BJP said that the leadership of both the parties had asked their cadres to ensure that they reach Ropar on December 1 at all costs in maximum numbers. The local administration is learnt to be keeping a watch lest it may be taken off-guard.

Administrative sources said that while the 144, CrPC, was imposed today only, the officers have been asked to exercise utmost restraint as any proactive action on the part of the administration and the police might spark off protests and even complicate the matter.

Ludhiana being an important political centre assumes important position in the current situation. 



Councillors on stone laying spree, says BJP leader
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
A former councillor and a senior leader of the BJP, Mr Pran Nath Bhatia, has alleged that a mad race between the councillors, particularly those belonging to the ruling Congress, was on to lay foundation stones of various development works in their respective wards. Among such works, many pertained to surfacing and carpeting of roads.

However, the councillors as well as the civic administration had chosen to conveniently forget that in the prevailing cold weather, the work for the surfacing of roads with stone metal and bitumen was not carried out and the hot mix plants went non-functional from November 15 to February 28 every year.

Some of the roads surfaced during the past few days under pressure from the respective councillors, including Shingar Cinema Road, Kochhar Market Road, Hargobind Road and Kesar Ganj Mandi Road, had already lost their top coat and the stone metal had loosened. In the process the money spent on these works had gone down the drain.

Mr Bhatia, who was the group leader of the BJP councillors in the previous House, has called upon the municipal corporation administration to issue explicit instructions to the officers concerned not to execute any work for surfacing and laying of premix carpet on the roads before the month of March so that wastage of funds could be curbed. As far as laying foundation stones for these works was concerned, the elected representatives could go ahead on the condition that execution of the work would be delayed due to weather conditions.



Cong prepares for Jor Mela
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, November 29
The District Congress Committee has been organising block-level meetings for the success of a political conference to be held on the occasion of “Sahidi Jor Mela” at Fatehgarh Sahib on December 25, Vaid Hari Krishan, said while addressing a joint meeting of Congress activists of two blocks here today.

Mr Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, MLA said the common people in the state were happy that the Congress was fulfilling step by step the promises made in the election manifesto of providing corruption-free administration and celebrating this year as development year by providing urban facilities in the rural areas.

Mr Joginder Singh Maini, state secretary, flayed the call given by the Akali leadership to its activists to reach the judicial complex on December 1, the day of hearing of the case against Badals. Council chief Joginder Pal Singla, DCC vice-chief Harinder Singh, urban and rural BCC chiefs Manoj Garg and Narinder Singh, respectively, and organising secretary Swatantar Singh Karkara also spoke.



Stir against graft in Railways threatened
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
The Bharatiya Jan Jagran Sangathan (BJJS), while condemning inaction on part of the railways top brass against some local employees, accused of harassing migrants, extortion, torture and running tickets and reservation scams, has threatened to gherao the Rail Bhavan in New Delhi and resort to a ‘rail roko’ agitation in the state.

In a representation to the Union Minister for Railways Mr Nitish Kumar, the president of the sangathan, Mr Prem Pandey, alleged that local railway officials and the GRP were shielding the erring employees to the extent that workers of the BJJS, who had gathered at the railway station to submit a memorandum to the General Manager of Northern Railway against the fleecing and exploitation of migrants at the local railway station, were mercilessly beaten up by the police and stopped from meeting the visiting officer.

Further, senior officials, including Mr V.P. Singh, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, and Mr N.S. Mann, Area Traffic Manager had given an assurance that the TTE Mr Sahib Singh, who had allegedly beaten up a migrant worker and unlawfully taken money from the victim, would be not only be suspended but also face criminal charges if found guilty in the preliminary inquiry. However, the said employee had merely been transferred to a nearby place and the matter of criminal conduct was not pursued any further.

Mr Pandey has called upon the Railway Ministry to initiate a high-level probe into the organised fleecing and exploitation of migrant at the local railway station with the active support and patronage of senior officers of the railways and the GRP. He also demanded that to meet the ends of justice, the Station Superintendent and in charge of the GRP here should be shifted elsewhere, so that they could not influence the inquiry in any manner.



Panel backs govt’s anti-graft drive
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 29
The district unit of the Anti-Corruption Council of India has supported the Congress government’s anti-corruption drive.
The council members said there was rampant corruption in the state and central government departments like the Railway, telecom, banks, financial institutions, the Central Excise, and Customs, the police, Education Health, Food and Civil Supplies which needed to be curbed.

Dr Shiv Gupta, secretary general of the council in a press statement today said it was difficult for the common man to get a job done without greasing the palms of officials and clerks. He alleged that in nationalised banks, the middlemen and chartered accountants were helping in offering bribes to managers and field officers to get loans sanctioned. No files move in the Municipal Corporation, PUDA and other government departments without bribery.

The members also suggested that there should be no political interference in the matters of recruitment, transfers and promotions. The politicians should be debarred from contesting elections after the age of 60 and there should be free and fair elections in the country. The deserving people should come forward.


NRI Sabha vice-chief honoured

Mandi Gobindgarh, November 29
Mr Jagmohan Sahota, vice-president, NRI Sabha of North America, who is on a Punjab tour these days, has lauded the achievements of Captain Amarinder Singh’s government for launching a crusade against corruption in the state.

He was talking to media- persons here yesterday after a brief function organised by the residents of the area to honour him.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Bawa, vice-chief, Municipal Council, Mr Brij Lal Goyal, vice-president, PPCC, Mr Kulwinder Singh Ambey Majra, member district vigilance committee, Mr Jagmohan Singh Bittu, president, co-operative society, Mandi Gobindgarh, Mr Manoj Kumar, president, block Congress committee, and Mr Vishavanath Bassi, Congress leader, were also present at the function.

Mr Sahota who belonged to the state, said the NRIs wanted to invest in the field of industry in the state but they did not come forward due to the fear of rampant corruption and law and order situation in the state. It had now been dealt with determination. The trade and industry would flourish in the coming days, he asserted. — OC



Sarpanch booked for fake SC certificate
Our Correspondent

Amloh, November 29
On the basis of a complaint of Mr Harmohan Singh, advocate, and resident of Sakrali village near here, the Bhadson police has registered a case against Som Singh, sarpanch of Sakrali village, under Section 420, 467, 468,471 and 120-B of the IPC.

According to sources, it was alleged in the complaint addressed to the Chief Minister, Punjab, that Som Singh on the basis of a fake Scheduled Castes certificate, was elected sarpanch of the village on June 29. The seat of sarpanch was reserved for Scheduled Castes candidate. It was stated in the complaint that Mr Harmohan Singh himself belonged to Scheduled Castes and contested the election of the sarpanch. He had been practising in the district courts at Patiala for the past 8 years.

It was further stated in the complaint that the caste of Som Singh had been entered as “Meer/Marasi” which fell in the backward castes category in column number 1878 of the school admission register. Contrary to it, Mr Som Singh procured a fake certificate of the “Doom” caste which had been declared a Scheduled Caste by the government, he asserted. The matter was brought to the notice of the Returning Officer at that time but he did not care for his objection, he maintained.

The alleged fake certificate was procured on June 11, a few days before the election. The advocate further stated that he had brought the matter to the notice of the state Election Commission. Finding no response, he had made a demand for a vigilance enquiry from the Chief Minister.

When contacted, the Bhadson police said that Mr Shamsher Singh Boparai, DSP, after an enquiry got the legal opinion and a case was registered accordingly.



Small-scale sector deep in the red
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
If the representatives of the small-scale industrial sector are to be believed, it is on the verge of closure. Varied reasons are being attributed which are said to be going against the small-scale sector. These include irrational duty structure and monopoly of steel producers.

According to Mr G.L. Pahwa, president of the United Cycle Parts and Manufacturers Association, at present the customs duty on prime steel is 25 per cent. Besides there is an additional excise duty of 16 per cent and special additional duty of 4 per cent which makes it to 51 per cent.

He said, although the industry had been promised that the customs duty on prime steel would be cut from 25 to 10 per cent as per the international rates (even the Kelkar Committee on tax reforms had also recommended cut in the duty), nothing positive has turned out so far.

Substantiating his argument, general secretary of the association, Mr Varinder Kapoor maintained that it was an accepted fact that all over the world, customs duty in raw material was lower while in the finished goods it was higher to boost the interests of the domestic industry. He said surprisingly, in India it was other way round.

He disclosed that the duty structure on steel raw material like the HR coils and CR coils, CR strips, steel ingots, steel flats, MS rounds, cuttings, secondary defective materials was abnormally high in India. He alleged that the vested interests in the government made the customs duty on secondary and defective materials to shoot up from 20 to 40 per cent.

Mr Kapoor suggested that it was high time that the customs duty on secondary and defective materials be brought down to 5 per cent. The export benefits given to the steel producers like the advance licence and other subsidies be withdrawn and the government should see that the requirements of the domestic industries were met with reasonable rates.

Demanding that the customs duty on the scrap be abolished, he said, right now it was 5 per cent, besides 20 per cent other taxes, making it to 25 per cent. He said the greater demand for the scrap from China and Bangladesh had led to its shortage thus hitting the Indian small-scale industry.

Mr Joginder Kumar, chairman of the steel committee of the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association maintained that the hike in pig iron and nickle prices was also worrying the small-scale sector. He said the small-scale sector contributed over 40 per cent to total industrial production of the country, over 36 per cent to total exports of the country and over 80 per cent to employment generation in the industrial sector.

He regretted that despite the substantial contribution to the national economy, the small-scale sector had no representation in the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council. All posts in the council had been occupied by the representatives of the CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and other groups from the organised sector.

Mr Pahwa, Mr Kapoor and Mr Kumar made a strong appeal to the government to ensure that the small-scale sector was provided a level-playing field as it not only contributed towards the economy, but also towards the social sector.



Food expo from Dec 19
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
Food Expo-2003 is all set to start from December 19.
It will continue for three days. The American Soyabean Association, the Supreme Agro-Foods, California Prunes, the USA Pears, California Grapes, Nafed, Hercules, Sivananda, Marvick, Ruchi Nutreal, Soy Fresh Poit and others are likely to participate.

Giving details of the expo, Mr Maninder Sethi, Director Excelsior Advertising, which is organising the expo said, "It will chronicle various innovations and advances in the food industry and help manufacturers, trade partners and consumers interact meaningfully with each other".

He disclosed that eminent scientists, professors, researchers and students would also participate in the expo.

He maintained that the expo was not simply an exhibition but also a platform to spread awareness about the different sectors of the food industry.

He hoped that the knowhow that would be disseminated through seminars at the exhibition would be particularly useful for entrepreneurs who wanted to venture in the particular field.

Giving details of the products to be exhibited at the event, he said these included from the sectors like health and nutrition, processed food, bakery and confectionary, home appliances, speciality pavilions, dairy, poultry, beverages, trader federations, publishers and other associations.

The visitor profile included consumers, representatives from the hospitality industry, caterers and bakers, chefs and cooks, traders and wholesalers, institutions including colleges, prestigious clubs and cookery institutes and industry experts.


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