L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


DSP Goel booked in molestation case
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 10
The district police today finally booked Deputy Superintendent of Police Sandeep Goel on the charges of molesting a woman constable in Satluj Club on Karva Chauth night in mid-November.

The case was registered on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which the woman had moved alleging inaction by the local police of her complaint. Though the High Court had ordered the immediate registration of the case on November 5, the police received the orders through Home Secretary today evening only following which the DSP was booked by Division number-V police station.

It could not be ascertained whether a departmental action was taken against the DSP or not. The incident had allegedly taken place a month ago at the local Satluj Club. The case saw many allegations and counter-allegations levelled by the accused and the complainant.

The complainant had, in a fresh complaint to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and copies to Inspector General (Zonal) and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Ludhiana, said that two SPs of the city had forced her to sign a blank paper on November 20 forcibly and later threatened to have her dismissed if she pursued the complaint against the said DSP. She had appended sworn affidavits along with her complaint.

Family members of the victim had revealed to The Tribune that in view of the extreme pulls and pressures on her with each passing day, the victim had not alternative left, except to approach the Chief Minister. They said the manner in which the recommendations of Mr Arunpal Singh, SP (HQ), have been ignored shows no seriousness about the case of the people in command.

An inquiry into the case conducted by former SP Arunpal Singh had indicted the DSP but there was no follow-up action on the recommendation of the report and a new investigation officer had been appointed to re-look into the entire episode. The accused DSP had also expressed distrust with the inquiry officer and requested for a probe by some other officer.



Policy for ‘undeclared’ colonies on anvil
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
Contrary to speculations and claims made by councillors belonging to opposition parties, the general house meeting of the municipal corporation turned out to be a rather smooth affair with quite a lot of mutual back slapping between councillors, cutting across party lines. However, there were some unruly moments as well when some Congress and SAD and BJP councillors exchanged hot words and disturbed the proceedings towards the fag end of the meeting which lasted for over four hours.

Responding to the demand by several councillors for the regularisation of “undeclared” colonies falling within the municipal limits and providing basic amenities like water supply, sewerage and roads to the population living in these areas in a phased manner, the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, informed the House that the government was formulating a comprehensive policy in this regard. The preliminary modalities for declaring all such colonies throughout the state had been prepared and the Cabinet would take the final decision within next few days.

In another significant move, the House unanimously resolved that in the wake of heavy reduction in the rates of interest by banks and other financial institutions, charging of 18 per cent compounded interest on arrears of water supply, sewerage and house tax was in no way justified and the rate be slashed to 6 per cent simple interest. The decision, however, would have to be approved by the state government.

The City Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, who was in the chair, took a serious note of the complaint by some of the councillors, including Mr Bhairaj Singh (SAD) and Mr Simarjit Singh Bains (SAD-Amritsar) that certain officers did not give due regard to the elected representatives and files and other documents were not shown to them, when demanded. He assured the councillors that irrespective of party affiliations, their dignity would be maintained and also gave a veiled threat to the officers to mend themselves.

On the allegations of irregularities in a sanitation contract for all major roads in the city, the commissioner maintained that the project was duly cleared by the Finance and Contracts Committee and proper procedure, in accordance with the rules, was followed in inviting open bids through advertisement in three leading newspapers. He disagreed with the councillor that there was any attempt to award the work to a particular contractor.

Mr Sharma further informed the house that both the ongoing projects of elevated road and Dhandari railway overbridge would be completed by the end of 2004. He said the delay was caused as these projects were taken up without any prior technical survey and feasibility study and permission from the authorities concerned. He said the MC had chalked out plans for the construction of flyovers at Samrala Chowk, Gill Road and possibly at Jalandhar bypass, along with sub-ways or motorable under passes at Basti Jodhewal, Sherpur and Bharat Nagar Chowk to tide over the problem of increasing traffic congestion in the city.

Mr Hakam Singh Giaspura (SAD), Mr Parveen Bansal (BJP), Mr Sushil Raju Thapar (Congress), Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, Ms Amrit Varsha Rampal, Mr Ram Chander Yadav (BSP), Mr Jaswinder Singh Bhola (SAD), Mr Gurdeep Singh Nitu (BJP) raised several issues like payment of DC rate to the ad hoc sweepers, interference of vigilance bureau in day-to-day working of the civic body, a mechanism for providing information to councillors and need for councillors’ rooms in each zonal office.

The House approved by a voice vote, among various other proposals, to seek private participation in recruitment of tree guards, construction of an indoor stadium on Pakhowal Road, renaming Mohalla Habib Ganj as Maharishi Balmiki Nagar, auction of parking place in Feroze Gandhi Market and construction of flyovers at various places in the city. The House decided to set up a sub-committee of group leaders of all political parties to go into the proposed shifting of the statue of martyr Kartar Singh Sarabha and payment of compensation to private land acquired for road along Budha Nullah.

Earlier, the house condoled the death of former City Mayor Choudhry Sat Parkash, Mr Mohan Singh Gill, brother of Mayor Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mr Dharam Dev Singh Kaka, a former councillor and husband of SAD councillor Ms Gurdeep Kaur. A two-minute silence was observed in memory of departed persons and the meeting was adjourned for 15 minutes before regular business was conducted.

SAD councillor Bhairaj Singh and Bharat Bhushan Ashu (Congress) exchanged hot words when the former alleged that a foundation stone was laid in his ward in a hurried manner by the Congress functionaries, including the councillor, an MLA and MP of the ruling party when he was out of town and his name was deliberately omitted from the foundation stone. Again as SAD and BJP councillors started distribution of “laddoos” in the House to “celebrate” the grant of bail to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Congress councillors, including the Mayor expressed strong protest saying this was a misconduct and against the decorum of the House.



CBI unearths home loan scam worth crores
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 10
It was a day-long operation that ended with the arrest of three late last night. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team that conducted the raids in the city now hopes to crack yet another scam, this time involving home loans worth crores. The CBI has laid their hands on a suspended Senior Manager of the State Bank of Hyderabad from the city’s busy GT Road area. Also in the dragnet were two agents of the bank, who are reportedly to be involved in a loan scam in connivance with the manager. The trio are said to have defrauded the bank of several crores by facilitating loans to the ineligible and undeserving.

Though the CBI was tight-lipped about its operation, sources said that the three arrested persons were presented before a CBI court at Patiala today. The court it is learnt has remanded CBI custody for them. The CBI raiding party included officials from Delhi, Lucknow and Chandigarh. Some officials associated with the raids identified the three accused as Senior Manager S.S Wadhwa and bank agents A. Gupta and S, Sethi.

In the raids that started around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday and concluded late in the night, the CBI team is believed to have laid their hands on documents related to the housing loan scam. A resident of Chandigarh, the bank manager is believed to be hiding in Ludhiana after his suspension from the bank recently.

Mr Gupta is a resident of Model Town Extension in the city and is said to be getting loans from the bank with the help of the manager for people who had no intentions of paying the loan back. Documents pertaining to sanctioning of loans were also recovered from the New Tagore Nagar area, where Mr Sethi is reported to be living.

According to sources, Mr Wadhwa was charge-sheeted by the bank last month after the bank realised that the manager had sanctioned loans amounting to several crores in a nine-month period during his posting at Hyderabad and Delhi. He sanctioned loans over Rs 6 crore within a short stint at Ludhiana.

Sources revealed that the two agents in connivance with Mr Wadhwa prepared forged documents to facilitate loans. The CBI officials said that they had been investigating the case for a long time before they actually decided to arrest the accused.

Before being taken to Patiala, the three are said to have been questioned for hours at the local Circuit House. The CBI raiding party included three DSPs, besides 13 other officials. The CBI had made their temporary office in five rooms of the local Zonal Training Center of Punjab National Bank at Miller Ganj.

The CBI it is learnt also questioned some other local bankers, eliciting their help in nailing the culprits. The bankers are said to have promised all cooperation to the CBI.



Chrysanthemums  charm at PAU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
A two-day chrysanthemum show organised by the Department of Floriculture and Landscaping, Punjab Agricultural University, was inaugurated here today. Inaugurating the show, Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, said the show was being organised in the memory of Bhai Veer Singh, a noted Punjabi poet whose birthday fell on December 5. He said Bhai Veer Singh was very fond of chrysanthemums and he had written several poems on these. He said an exhibition of roses would also be held in the month of February.

Expressing their views about the show, Dr Surjit Patar and Gurbhajan Gill, both poets, gave a literary colour to this show. Dr Ramesh Kumar, Head, of the department, said PAU had 210 varieties of chrysanthemum, out of which 150 varieties have been displayed in the flower-show. He told that 1,000 plants have been prepared for the public and these were open for sale.

Dr Malwinder Singh Tiwana, Dean, College of Agriculture, Dr Harjinder Singh Sekhon, Dean, College of Agricultural Engineering, Dr M.S. Oberoi, Dean, College of Veterinary Science, Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director of Extension Education, Dr Gobinder Singh Nanda, Director of Research, Dr Amrik Singh Sandhu, Additional Director of Extension Education, Dr Santokh Singh Sokhi, Dr Sarjit Singh Gill and Dr Suresh Uppal, Librarian were also present on the occasion.



Ex-teacher dies at Mini-Secretariat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 10
He had waited for his post-retiral benefits for two long years and finally when the much awaited day came, he died within minutes of receiving his cheque. He could not even reach home and died at the Mini-Secretariat Complex only.

Revati Raman Prasher, (60), a former Vice-Principal of the local SDP School died of a heart attack just after receiving a cheque worth Rs 2 lakh as his gratuity.

He had retired two years ago. A resident of Gandhi Nagar, he had left his house in the morning at 9 today and had gone to the office of the District Education Officer. He collapsed near the parking lot of the mini secretariat and by the time his friend, Mr R.K. Khurana, a former Principal of the school, reached the spot he had already died.

Pall of gloom fell on the house of Prashar after the news of his death was broken to the family. As the telephone of the house was dead they could be contacted much after the incident.

His son Mr Anshuman Prashar, said he had complained of minor chest pain in the morning. 



Hosiery goods destroyed in fire
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
Huge stocks of finished goods were destroyed, while the building and the machinery were also slightly damaged in a fire which broke out on the top floor of a hosiery unit in Industrial Area here this afternoon. Fire-fighting staff of the municipal fire brigade and four fire tenders had to struggle for almost two hours to bring the blaze under control.

According to owners of the factory, the fire was noticed on the top floor. While the cause was not known, an electrical short circuit could have caused the sparking, which set the finished goods stocked in that portion, on fire. A large number of workers of the affected unit as also those from adjoining factories joined the fire fighting efforts and it was after quite a while that fire tenders arrived at the spot.



BKU’s stress on need for right to employment
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) has appealed to the Union Government to effectively take up the issue of slashing heavy subsidies being paid to the farmers by developing countries at the next meeting of WTO to safeguard the interests of farming economy in developing nations.

Talking to mediapersons, the BKU President, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, and the secretary general, Mr Manjit Singh Kadian, also stressed the need for universal right to labour and employment. They said if the rich countries were free to sell their produce in poor and developing countries under the WTO regime, people all over the world should have the right to employment in the country of their choice without any restriction of visa or work permit.

BKU functionaries pointed out that while professions like legal practice, education, banking and insurance had been included in the GATT agreement, under a well thought out conspiracy against the poor nations, the 'migration of labour' had been deliberately kept out of the purview of the said agreement.

‘‘If the developed nations really care about the interests of their poor counterparts and wish the world to become prosperous, they should evolve a foolproof mechanism for free exchange of labour and capital between the rich and the poor countries.’’

Mr Lakhowal and Mr Kadian maintained that in the wake of globalisation and the WTO regime, there was no justification for any kind of restrictions on the exchange of capital, business enterprises and labour between the different countries in the world.

They informed that there was great enthusiasm among farmers in the state for participation in the national-level ‘kisan panchayat’ to be convened in Delhi on December 23 to mark the birthday of former Prime Minister Choudhry Charan Singh.

The BKU had already organised ‘kisan panchayats’ in 12 districts of the state to mobilise the farmers for the proposed rally.

‘‘The response evoked by the district level meetings was a clear pointer that the farmers were ready to launch a decisive battle against the injustice and excesses perpetrated against them.’’

BKU activists said farmers from Punjab would reach Gurdwara Bangla Sahib in Delhi on December 22 and would proceed to the venue of the rally from Gurdwara Seesganj on December 23.



Akalis celebrate Badals’ release
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 10
Jubilant Akalis danced to the beats of drums while others distributed sweets to celebrate the release of former CM and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Sukhbir Badal, from Patiala jail today.

Workers had started assembling at the local office of the party since morning and once the news was received that Mr Badal had walked out of the prison, the whole atmosphere reverbated with the beats of drums. While the younger crowd broke out in an impromptu dance, the elders had to be content with congratulating and embracing each other. All along workers at the sidelines were raising slogans in favour of their party and Mr Badal.

Talking to newspersons, Jathedar Avtar Singh Makkar, acting chief of the unit, said the party had great faith in the judiciary and the court had not disappointed them by releasing the Badals from custody. He said the party rank and file was sure that the duo would be honourably discharged from the false cases registered against them by Capt Amarinder Singh, he added.

Lashing out at the Congress, he said the Congress was in disarray because of the autocratic style of functioning of the CM. He was not being perceived as a leader of the masses and the people were ruing the day they voted for the party. The Akalis would win all seats in the forthcoming parliamentary polls, he asserted.



Sarpanches form mahapanchayat
Our Correspondent

Amloh, December 10
Panchayats are the backbone of a democracy but the bureaucracy has become so powerful that local government institutions have failed to make use of their rights and powers provided by the Panchayati Raj system. These were the general views expressed at a meeting of 46 sarpanches at Chahal village, 5 km from here as stated by Mr Netar Singh Ghundar, press secretary of the mahapanchayat, in a press release here today.

Mahant Harwinder Singh Khanaura, member, District Planning Board and former chairman, Block Samiti, suggested to form a mahapanchayat so that the problems faced by various sarpanches from time to time might be discussed at this platform.

A decision was taken to constitute a mahapanchayat. The following were elected office bearers: patron — Mahanat Harwinder Singh Khanaua; president — Mehanga Singh Bhari; vice-presidents — Raghvir Singh Arora, Gurmeet Singh Rajpura and Ranjeet Singh; legal adviser — Rameshwar Dass Puri Bhadson; cashier — Darshan Kaura; general secretary — Jaspal Singh Chahal and Karam Singh.



Need to simplify TDS provisions, say experts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
A seminar by the Ludhiana branch of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India was organised here. The main topic for discussion was tax deduction at source and tax collection on sales.

According to senior officials, TDS provisions of income tax were simple and free from all controversies and complications. The only thing was that these provisions needed simple compliance by the assessee.

Contrary to this, a view was expressed by tax experts that TDS as well as tax collection on sales and matters relating thereto were not simple but extremely complicated. The experts stressed that there were many other provisions that were self-contradictory.

In addition, all provisions were extremely complicated in spite of the fact that in recent past, some simplifications had been effected by the Central Board of Direct Taxes. Experts from various organizations also made their representations and highlighted a number of grey areas where serious complications existed and needed to be simplified.

They were of the view that there should be uniform rate of tax deduction at source at 2 per cent on all payments with basic exemption of Rs 20,000 payment in one year. There should be a provision for issuing declaration by receiver of money for lower rate of deduction, if one’s income was likely to be lower than tax being deducted at source.

They stressed to issue the certificate of TDS by June 30 of the following year in which deduction was made.

The chartered accountants said tax deduction at source and tax collection on sales, both were honorary assignments upon tax deducter as well as tax collector (assessee). For each and every default, one was liable to penalty and prosecution both. Being honorary job, it should not be coupled with penalty and prosecution including penal interest. However, incentive in the form of service charges should be provided to the tax collector and tax deducter at the rate of 10 per cent of such tax collection and deposit thereof to the credit of the Central Government. In case of default by an assessee, the benefit of this incentive will be lost and that will be the leverage for initiating tax compliance as happy assignment. Tax deduction at source should be free from all surcharges. Rate of TDS of 10 per cent should apply on payments to non-residents. Clarifications on issues arising out of practical working of TDS, TCS should be resolved within 15 days from the date of raising the issue to the Central Board of Direct taxes. Through this mechanism, better and timely compliance will be initiated.

Mr S.R. Mittal, the president of the Tax Consultants Association, stressed. Tax compliance should not become blocks and laws should be simple and easy to comply with.



Police atrocities dominate rights violation cases: Jain
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 10
Police atrocities continue to top the list of complaints received by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC). Out of the every 100-odd complaints received by the commission, 99 are of police excesses.

The startling exposure came from none other than the Chairman of the PSHRC, Justice N.C. Jain, who was in the city today to participate in a seminar “Know Your Rights” organised by Roshni, an NGO on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.

Speaking to mediapersons, Justice Jain said almost all complaints received by the commission were regarding the human rights violations depicting the high-handedness of police men. He added that in the current year the commission had received as many as 8,000 cases of rights violations.

Justice Jain further stated that since the setting up of commission, there were around 15,000 complaints registered by it. During the past five years, it had registered around 7,000 complaints. The data of current year showed that the people were becoming aware of their rights and violations. So they were coming up with their complaints to the commission.

Replying to a query that the commission, in many case, was continuing to be a ‘‘toothless tiger’’ as some government offices were not paying much heed to its orders, the chairman said it was up to the government authorities to see it that the orders were followed in letter and spirit. Otherwise there was no use of setting up Human Rights Commission, he said adding that the commission was not working independently but it was keeping a vigilant watch on the violations of rights and it could only function with the help of law enforcing agencies.

Declining to comment on the fate of some particular cases of violations happening in Ludhiana, the chairman said the commission was keeping a track of the cases and was following them up till their logical conclusion.



‘Awareness key to guarding human rights’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made by UNO in the year 1948. With this the concept of human rights came into existence all over the world. However, it was a western concept. In our culture ‘Raj Dharma’ dealing in human rights is an ancient concept. More laws are being made to protect the rights of vulnerable members of our society like women, children, physically challenged.

But the question is whether the society is following the laws with sensitivity?" asked Dr Pam Rajput an eminent sociologist and human rights activist while expressing her views about the basic human rights violations in India on the occasion of Human Rights Day today. She delivered a keynote address at a seminar on ‘‘Know your Rights’’ organised at Guru Nanak Stadium here today.

She said seminars on human rights were organised world over, but still practices of untouchability prevailed in society, people carried soil, sale of organs was on and the number of bonded labourers was not going down. She said male female ratio was disgracefully low in Punjab.

Talking to this correspondent she said,‘‘The empowerment of women and members of other weaker sections will only come through education- not the bookish kind but the knowledge that empowers. It is not only the duty of government alone to impart this knowledge but of all organisations and individuals that want to protect human rights.’’

The NGO Roshni celebrated the Human Rights Day today in a novel way by organising a march from Guru Nanak Stadium. The march was joined by people from different walks of life i.e. students teachers, elderly, intelligentsia and activists of NGOs, mentally challenged persons. Mr Rajesh Jaiswal, SP, H Q, Ludhiana.

Mr S.K Verma, DGP Punjab State Human Rights Commission, also participated in the seminar ON human rights. In his address, Mr Verma said awareness about one's rights was the first step towards achieving equality and justice in a society.

In his welcome address, Dr D.J Singh, president Roshni, spoke about various initiatives taken by international organisations. He also said the Punjab State Human Rights commission was playing a vital role in safeguarding the human rights in our community. Dr Ravinder Kala, secretary general of Roshni discussed about human rights of women in India. Dr (Mrs) Kala discussed about the human rights of women in the context of trafficking of women, reproductive health rights, contribution in decision making and inability to have a basic control over what happens to their bodies.

Dr Kala, vice-president of Roshni, highlighted the human rights of persons with mental illness and suggested measures to improve them.



Gambling fever refuses to subside
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, December 10
Behind a cluster of roadside kiosks near Ghanta Ghar, an engrossing game of sweep is on with the players holding the cards close to their chests. They are surrounded by many idlers who are keenly watching the proceedings. None of them dares to utter a word or suggestion to any of the players because the stakes are high. Wisely so, because they are familiar with the wrath of a losing gambler who gets more desperate to win after every “loss”.

Discreet questioning reveals that one of the four gamblers trying their luck at the game had lost heavily during Divali and he was striving hard to make good the loss as he had to sell off his roadside tea shop to pay his debt. Even though luck has been refusing to smile on him since then, he is continuing to gamble in the hope that his time would come and he would be rich enough to pay all his debts and restart his tea business.

The fever that took city gamblers in its grip about two months ago is refusing to subside which has engulfed the old city areas and parts of the town. A number of arrests and cases under the Gambling Act has been registered by the city police.

The Civil Lines police rounded up four persons, and confiscated Rs 1,200 from them on last Sunday. The Model Town police, too, rounded up four persons in two different raids in Jawaddi the same day. They were booked under the Gambling Act. In fact hardly a day passes when the police does not round up some men gambling at public places. But this had not deterred the hardened gamblers who indulge in the game day in and day out.

But according to sources, the cases registered at various police stations of the city are nothing as compared to the actual volume of gambling that takes places at public places and organised gambling dens being run in private buildings and hotels across the city.



Callous administration

THE sheer scale of the stamp scam of Rs 23,000 crore is so mind-boggling that public attention has not only been focussed on the criminal masterminded Abdul Karim Telgi and his nexus with politicians and policemen, but is a damning indictment of the inefficient and callous administrative system that is in place as the government’s revenue mechanism.

It is clear that the scamster thrived on appeasing the top brass of the police, politics and government departments. It is surprising to note that he not only consolidated his empire but also managed to evade arrest for about 10 years. It also shows the unwillingness on the part of officials and all others concerned to act in time.

The people, who unwillingly used fake judicial papers till now in different transactions on good faith and genuinity of the papers, have heaved a sigh of relief after the Finance Minister dispelled all doubts and assured the people that all such dealings would be considered legal.

Awaking to the scam and making the stamp paper a foolproof document, the government is considering a new plan which would be in place by January, 2004. Some states have already initiated action like Andhra Pradesh which has started to accept demand drafts over a specified value, whereas Maharashtra has started using franking machines.

My point of view is that the government should abolish this mechanism and go on to one of direct payments, via drafts, pay orders or cheques etc. In these, the Registrar’s acknowledgement should be sufficient to provide requisite legal proof of the deal while the monetary part of the deal should be handled only through banks.

Kuldip Singh Kreer, Ludhiana

False promises galore

All parties, while contesting elections, make attractive promises in the manifestoes to fetch votes. Once in power, all of the promises are ignored. Look here, all the parties — say Congress, Akalis and BJP — made promises for free water supply and sewerage. But now the Congress is in power in MC and instead of free water supply, it is increasing the charges for the next four years.

It is not justified to announce rates for the coming years when these are not approved by house of corporation. This would increase the burden on the public. The only remedy to this problem is that the party manifestoes should be made challengeable in a court of law.

I would request Ludhianavis to rise to the occasion and file a PIL in the High Court about such betrayals.

Sher Singh, Ludhiana

Captain Govt flayed on poll promises

More than 5 lakh Punjab government employees and pensioners are up in arms against the government for its ‘anti-employee’ policies. During its 21-month rule and having presented two budgets, it has utterly failed to fulfil its poll promises made by the Congress in its manifesto on the eve of Punjab Assembly polls in February, last year. Promises included a raise in medical allowance and grant of house-rent allowance to pensioners.

It is further pointed out that the MLA-pensioners in Punjab have been allowed old age allowance at the rate of 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 15 per cent of their basic pensions on attaining the age of 65, 75 and 80 years, respectively. However, the Punjab Government pensioners are given this benefit only at two ages, i.e. 65 to 75 years and the benefit at the age of 80 years is denied to them despite the 3rd Pay Commission’s recommendation for this benefit for them. It is sheer discrimination. This shows that the government has money for former MLAs, but the coffers are empty for former employees. Pensioners fret and fume and feel cheated over this unjust policy.

Yash Paul Ghai, Ludhiana

Pensioners’ plea to banks

Whenever the dearness relief was announced by the Government of India to its pensioners, the State Bank of India, Civil Lines branch, used to make payment and has been making payment on the authority of information from the press. But all other banks did not do so stating that the necessary instructions from their head office were not forthcoming which took a few months.

Mr Sher Singh, president, Northern Railway Pensioners Welfare Association, Ludhiana, took up the matter with Chairman, State Bank of India, Bombay and Finance Ministry, New Delhi. As a result of this the zonal office, SBI, Ludhiana, has informed that instructions have been issued to Shimlapuri Branch of SBI to make payments on the authority of press release in this connection. This association hopes that other banks in the city would also follow this practice as already decided by the Reserve Bank of India.

K.L. Chitkara, Ludhiana

How efficient is BSNL?

I surrendered my telephone no. 2562715 and sent an application to this effect on November 14. I also submitted an application personally in the concerned office at the Transport Nagar Exchange on November 19. The phone has not been disconnected till today despite several verbal requests. I will not pay rent for this period. How efficient is BSNL?

Harbir Singh Bhanwar, Ludhiana

Woman Chief Minister

It is, indeed, a happy moment for the women in our male-dominated society that at present five women, belonging to different political party are Chief Ministers. They are Vasundhara Raje Scindia of Rajasthan, Uma Bharti of Madhya Pradesh, Sheila Dikshit of Delhi, Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu and Rabri Devi of Bihar. The day is not far when a woman will be the President of our country.

Y.P. Ghai, Ludhiana



2 shops gutted
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, December 10
Two shops were gutted in a fire in the main market here on the Sahnewal-Kohara road yesterday.
While the clothshop was reduced to ashes, the readymade garments and cosmetics shop was burnt partially.

The affected shops were Maharaja Silk Store and ‘Deepe Di Hatti’. A short circuit was said to be cause of the fire.



Shopkeeper shot at
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, December 10
A case under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act and 307 and 34 of IPC has been registered against the two scooter-borne youths who fired at a shopkeeper at Katani Kalan village bus stand near Sahnewal, last evening.

According to the statement of Jatinder Kapoor, the son of the owner of Kapoor Cloth House: “My father, Suman Kapoor, was in his shop when two youths with covered faces entered the shop and attacked him.”

Suman Kapoor was shot in the face. He was admitted to Christian Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana. The motive behind the attack is still a mystery.

Meanwhile, the Sahnewal police has begun investigations into the case and a search has been launched to nab the accused, according to the SHO, Sahnewal police station. According to information, the two youths sported beards.



Six booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
The Sahnewal police has registered a case under Sections 420, 406, 494 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Mr Tehal Singh, a resident of Gujjran village, against Mandeep Kaur, Harminder Kaur, Kamaljit Singh and Sikandar Singh, all residents of Barwala village, Nachhattar Kaur, a resident of Sahnewal and Dharminder Singh, a resident of Kamli village in Fatehgarh Sahib district.

The complainant had alleged that Mandeep Kaur, one of the accused, was married to his son in December 2000. The complainant further stated that he had paid Rs 6 lakh to the accused on the understanding that they would send his son abroad after marriage but they failed to either send his son abroad or return the money. No arrest has been made so far in this regard.

Murder bid: The Sahnewal police has registered a case under Sections 307 and 34 of the IPC and various sections of the Arms Act on the statement of Mr Jatinder Kapur, a resident of Ram Nagar, against two unidentified persons who fired at his father from a revolver and injured him at Katani Kalan village on Tuesday evening. The police said today that it was clueless about the crime and no arrest had been made.

Woman held: The Division Number 3 police yesterday arrested Teena Rani, a resident of Sikandari Road in Khud Mohalla, seized 300 gm of charas from her possession and booked her under the NDPS Act. The woman reportedly confessed that she had been retailing the contraband for the past three years after the death of her mother.

Dowry demand alleged: The Jodhewal police has registered a case under Sections 323, 406 and 498-A of the IPC on the statement of Ms Mona Rani, a resident of Sanjay Gandhi Colony, against her husband Sukhwinder Singh and Dimple, residents of Sarabha Nagar. The woman had alleged that after her marriage in January 2002, the accused had been harassing her and demanding more dowry. No arrest has been made so far.

Servant booked: The Haibowal police has registered a case under Section 328 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Rajpal Gupta, a resident of New Tagore Nagar, against his servant Shankar Bahadur. The complainant had alleged that the accused had mixed poison in his meal on the night of December 7. No arrest has been made so far.

Liquor seized: The Division Number 2 police yesterday arrested Suresh Kumar, a resident of Daulatpur village in Rae Bareilly district of UP, now living in Islam Ganj, recovered 10 bottles of illicit liquor from his possession.

The Sadar police yesterday arrested Rupesh Kumar, a resident of Model Town and recovered 10 bottles of country made liquor from his possession. Both the accused were booked under the Excise Act.



Rickshaw-puller commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
Swaranjit, a 22-year old rickshaw-puller , reportedly committed suicide by hanging in his house in Jawaddi Kalan late last night.
According to information, the deceased went to sleep in his room after taking dinner. Sometime during the night, he took out the rope from his cot and used the same for hanging himself. The Model Town police, which was informed about the incident this morning , has registered a case under section 174 of the Cr. P.C. and handed over the body to his parents after an autopsy at the Civil Hospital.



Ban export of steel, says chamber
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
The apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab has urged the Union Government to ban the export of steel and save the steel user industry in the country which is faced with a serious crisis in the wake of an unprecedented hike in the prices by the main steel producers of the country. In a letter to Mrs Binu Sen, Secretary, Ministry of Steel Mr P D Sharma, president of the chamber stated that the dark days of militancy in Punjab had not been forgotten as yet and if the industry was destablilised in Punjab due to the unmanageable steel prices, the resurgence of dark days could not be ruled out.

Mr Sharma alleged that the steel producers were selling steel at 35 per cent higher rates than the global rates. They were exporting HR coil at $ 290 US per tonne and selling the same in the country at $ 424 per tonne. The result of this gross mismatch was destabilising the indigenous industry. According to reports HR coils exported to China, Nepal and Bangladesh and other countries were coming back to India as pipes and tubes, cold rolled and galvanised sheets and auto parts components. Can any country afford such an luxury, he asked.

Mr Sharma while welcoming the decision of the government not to allow the public sector plants to export more than 10 percent of the production, demanded a complete ban on the export of steel to meet the needs of the domestic industry. The producers in the private sector were not observing this order of the government and the government should stop giving them the export incentive on steel export, he said.

Mr Sharma pointed out that the steel producers had been getting robust protection with floor prices of HR coil at $ 320 US. During the year 2002 the global steel prices of HR coil ranged between $ 220 and $300 dollars. The Calcutta High Court had struck down the floor prices at the highest level. In view of this situation, the government should remove the clause of floor prices as there were adequate anti-dumping provisions and safeguards duty to protect steel producers.

Mr Sharma observed that the entire steel user industry was in the doldrums and was facing heavy losses due to the hike. The industry in Punjab had to bear heavy burden of freight too.



Crushing of cane to begin today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 10
The fourteenth sugarcane crushing season (2003-2004) of Jagraon Cooperative Sugar Mills Ltd. at Jagraon, about 40 km from here, will commence on tomorrow.
According to Mr A.N. Singh Chauhan, Managing Director, the factory would commence crushing after the conclusion of akhand path of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which had commenced yesterday. Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, MP, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, Managing Director, Sugarfed (Punjab), Mr S.R.S. Gill, AMD, Sugarfed, Punjab, Mr Gurmit Singh, SDM, Jagraon, Mr Gurinderjit Singh, Director, Sugarfed (Punjab), Mr Kamaldeep Singh Sangha, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies and Administrator, Jagraon Cooperative Sugar Mills, Sant Baba Lakha Singh ji, Nanaksar (Kaleran), among many other dignitaries were expected to attend the function.

Mr Chauhan advised the cane farmers of the area to supply fresh, clean and healthy sugarcane to the mills so that the mill might be able to cater to the needs of the people of the area. He also urged the parties concerned to extend their whole hearted support and cooperation in running the sugar mill smoothly. He said the mill had made adequate arrangements for parking of sugarcane trollies in the cane yard, 24-hour canteen, tyre and tube repair shop and farmer’s rest house on the mill premises. “We intend to ensure full capacity utilisation of the mill during the current season with improved performance in order to ensure prosperity and better future prospect of the farmer community of the area.”


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