L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Kingpin of multicrore financial scam arrested
Suspected to have embezzled Rs 20 crore
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
At long last the Sarabha Nagar police has succeeded in arresting Vicky Dhir, the kingpin in the multi-crore financial scandal which rocked the city last year. Over Rs 20 crore were said to be embezzled by the accused when he declared himself bankrupt in November, 2002.

According to sources, a team of the Sarabha Nagar police station accompanied by a few complainants, including Mr V.K. Ohri, went to the new residence of Dhir at Jalandhar. He was nabbed from his residence in the early morning.

It was learnt that after declaring himself bankrupt and refusing to return the money to so many lenders, including Mr Ohri, he had went into hiding. He had reportedly purchased a palatial house in Jalandhar. He was reportedly roaming scot-free although an FIR was registered against him in the police station.

After the complainants approached the Chief Minister and complained to him that the police was not taking any action against the accused, about six months ago the Officer on Special Duty in the CM’s office wrote a letter to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana, seeking details and the action taken in the case. It took about six months for the police to trace Dhir and nab him.

The main complainant, Mr Ohri, has alleged in an FIR that Dhir had issued a cheque for Rs 50 lakh in his name. But the cheque bounced since there was no cash in Dhir’s account. On the basis of the complaint, an FIR was registered against him for cheating.

However, the case involves over Rs 20 crore which Dhir is said to be owing to various money-lenders and private financiers. The accused took the advantage since the financiers and lenders could not register a complaint as most of the money was not accounted for. But the police could act only on the complaint of Mr Ohri who had documentary evidence of having been allegedly cheated by Dhir.

Dhir’s “bankruptcy” had shaken the parallel financial market and for a while the circulation of money had stopped. This had also hit the business. A lot of trade and business in Ludhiana depends on the money lent by the private financiers. The amount runs into crores of rupees.

Dhir had a humble beginning. He had within a brief period won over the confidence of leading private financiers. It is learnt that his changeover from an ordinary middle class living to a lavish lifestyle was too instant and it proved too shortlived as well.

He would accept money while offering fabulous interest of 2 per cent (that comes to 24 per cent in a year against just 6 per cent offered by the banks). He had reportedly gone broke much earlier, but would manage to carry on by ensuring the timely payment of interest to the lenders and creditors.

Even this he could not carry for long. The bubble burst only when he expressed his inability to pay the interest to the creditors, to whose shock they learnt that he had declared himself bankrupt. They were left in lurch as they could not complain to the police since the money was unaccounted.



Tributes paid to 1971 martyrs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
Tributes were paid to Flg-Off Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, Major Bhupinder Singh and other martyrs, who had laid down their lives for the country during the 1971 Indo-Pak war at a function organised to observe the Vijay Divas at Mini Secretariat here today.

A war hero of the 1971 war, Air Marshal Manjit Singh Sekhon, PVSM, Brig J.S. Jaswal, Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Lieut-Cmdr Tarlochan Singh, District Sainik Welfare Officer, Air-Cmde Vijay Kumar Bali, AOC, Halwara, and Deputy Commissioner Anurag Verma paid tributes to the martyrs on the occasion.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Sekhon, brother of Flying Officer Sekhon, PVC, and Mr Piara Singh, father of 2nd Lieut Jatinder Singh Mander were also honoured on this occasion.

Paying tributes to the martyrs, Air Marshal Sekhon said Indian soliders had always shown exemplary courage and made great sacrifices while giving a befitting reply to the enemy whenever a challenge came from across the border. He said our Army was considered among the best disciplined armies of the world. As a part of peace keeping forces of the UNO, our soliders had performed their duties with utmost dedication and devotion, he added.

He said Punjabi soldiers had always remained in forefront to safeguard the frontiers of the country. Recently during the Kargil war, known as one of the most difficult wars of the world, Punjabi soldiers had risen to the occasion and recaptured areas occupied by the Pakistani Army.

Stressing upon the need to give respect to families of the martyrs, he said nations, which remember their martyrs always made exemplary achievements.

Brigadier Jaswal said the state government has set up a monitoring cell at the Sainik Welfare Board, Chandigarh, to ensure 13 per cent reservation for ex-servicemen in placements. He said he had urged the government to appoint more persons in the cell so that the placement work could be done more efficiently.

Brigadier Jaswal said under the Punjab War Hero Family Relief Scheme, as many as 308 families of Kargil heroes had been disbursed Rs 110 crore for helping them in the construction of houses. He added that family members of 244 Kargil martyrs had also been provided with jobs.

Mr Verma said the administration’s top priority was to dispose of routine works of ex-servicemen and their families. He urged officials to give proper respect to the ex-servicemen whenever they visited their offices.

He added that 42 families of war heroes had been given Rs 5 lakh each for the construction of houses during the current year. Relatives of 22 martyrs had also been provided jobs. Lieut-Cmdr Tarlochan Singh while proposing a vote of thanks, said the District Sanik Welfare Board was extending financial assistance and help to the ex-servicemen and their families. It would help in reemployment of ex-service men in government and private sectors. At last 11 “veer naris” (war widows) were also honoured on the occasion. Cheques of ex-gratia were presented by the chief guest to the families of martyrs.



Widows urge for peace on Vijay Divas
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 16
It was a moving poem by a young schoolchild, describing the grief of a child whose father had laid down his life fighting enemy, that conveyed a strong message of end to war and bloodshed at a function organised to mark Vijay Divas here today.

While an emotionally charged Sakshi of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Baddowal, was reciting the poem “Suneha” on the stage, tears were rolling down the cheeks of many widows who had lost their husbands in various wars or while fighting infiltration on Indo-Pak border.

As Sakshi started with the poem, “Jis mere abba de seene goli mari si” from the dais, the widows, identifying themselves with the lines, felt the pain of their children who did not understand the meaning of death and waited for their father to come on every birthday.

Expressing their feelings of hatred against bloodshed, the widows called for the stopping of war, as it affected women and children the most. Welcoming the decision of the Pakistan and Indian Governments to stop cross-border firing, the widows said they were happy for the relatives of defence personnel posted at the border.

Eleven widows, who were given ex gratia after they had lost their husbands along the Indo-Pak border, said they were the happiest lot after the announcement of cease-fire. “Who can understand better the pain of the families of defence personnel posted at the border? I am feeling very happy that finally there is no firing going on. I, on behalf of children and wives of defence personnel as well as martyrs, urge both the governments to stop cross-firing forever,” said Ms Karamjit Kaur (34), a widow of Subedar Paramjit Singh who laid down his life in Kupwara sector in 2001 while fighting infiltrators.

It was a jolt for 33-year-old Sukhwinder Kaur of Sherpur Kalan village, when she heard the news of martyrdom of her husband in Srinagar on May 19 during cross-firing. “My husband used to tell me that they lived in the shadow of death, as bullets or shells were always fired across the border. Though I could never witness the conditions he lived in, his death made me understand that he was really living on the edge. I hope for my counterparts that they never lose their husband like I did,” said Sukhwinder Kaur, who received a cheque for Rs 1 lakh as ex gratia at the function.



Travel agents fleecing passengers
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, December 16
In the absence of any check on travel agents by the authorities concerned, a number of passengers are allegedly being harassed by them. Travel agents, on the other hand, maintain that since they are authorised by the Railway Travel Services Agency, they are not answerable to anyone.

In one such incident, Mohammad Israfil Hussain, who stays near Daresi, alleged that at travel agent at New Shivpuri had not only harassed him by not confirming his tickets but also refused to return the advance amount given to him.

According to the complainant, he had approached Dhir Travels, New Shivpuri on December 14, for getting four tickets confirmed for Muzzafarpur. “My sister, her husband and their two children had come to visit us. They were to go back on December 16. In order to avoid any inconvenience, I went to this travel agent to get confirmed tickets for the ‘Amarnath Express. The attendant, a woman, said since there was a huge rush, they could only arrange confirmed tickets for the Shaheed Express. Though I was not very happy with the decision, but since they had to reach Muzzafarpur on time, so I gave the travel agent the advance money — Rs 1500.

He was, however, in for a shock because when he went to the agent today to collect the tickets, the woman said all their tickets could not be confirmed and only two tickets were available in the RAC category. Since the relatives of the complainant had to travel with two children for more than 36 hours, they decided not to take the train. When Mr Hussain asked the attendant to give back the advance deposit, she refused, saying that only half of his advance would be returned. “I argued with her, but in vain.

Mr C.S.Dhir of Dhir Travels, said,”We do not give any guarantee of confirmation of tickets. Whatever information is given by the Railway people, is conveyed to passengers. The complainant is telling lies. He was rude to the attendant. We never told him that we would return half of the booking amount. If there was some mistake on the part of the attendant, I will look into it.” Another city-based travel agent said such cases were routine. “The travel agents are not regulated by anyone. They work on their own. In the absence of any check, such cases are often reported”, said the person on condition of anonymity.

Mr H.S. Punia, Divisional Railway Manager, Ferozepore, said though such cases were rare, but these should be brought to the notice of the higher authorities. Harassed passengers should contact local railway officials. “We conduct surprise checks. We fine persons if we find any discrepancies. In serious cases, we cancel the licences of travel agents”, said Mr Punia.




Sentinel noticed that on Mondays the traffic is quite less on roads. Maybe after the hectic activities of the weekend, people take it easy on Monday. The road from Domoria Bridge is also without much traffic and one can traverse on the highly congested road with ease. The traffic is less, perhaps the airconditioned market Calibre Plaza opposite The Tribune office remains closed. But whatever the reason, the smooth moving traffic fills the hearts of commuters with joy and they wish that such light traffic should be an everyday feature, but only if wishes were horses!

Mass-media dept

The efficiency of the mass media wing of District Health Department really needs to be appreciated. They are so efficient that they do not even consult their higher officials while sending invitations to the Press for coverage. And when the press people reach the venue, the officials have to cut a sorry figure for their “efficiency”. Recently, a mass media officer of the Health Department called up at the Tribune office for coverage of two of their events. One was the meeting on PNDT Act while the other programme was a meeting on pulse polio campaign. When the reporter reached at the venue, the officer, who was chairing the meeting, suddenly stopped and said that since it was an internal meeting, the department would send the release later. Obviously, he felt bad and courteously offered a cup of tea to the correspondent. The same happened with the other programme. The officers said that they were very sorry for the inconvenience.

Science fair

Recently a school near Millerganj had sent an invitation to Sentinel for a ‘science fair’. As was expected from the event, there should have been atleast 40 to 50 exhibits on science topics arranged in a hall or a few classrooms. But in fact, there were just 14 models displayed in a small dark room. A student was explaining the working of a solar cooker inside the room while not a single ray of light was falling on the project. In the first prize winning model on treatment of industrial effluent, the impure fluid coming out of the factory was shown to be perfectly clean. Due to a model on multipurpose dam project, the floor of the room turned muddy and slippery.

Admission blues

Since the admissions to nursery and KG classes have already begun at most of the schools, it is time when parents feel worried. Keeping a track of the schedule of admission for different schools, getting the prospectus, filling and submitting the admission forms, sending their kids for mock interviews to school and friend’s places, and looking for some means of trying approach in a school, the parents feel that their entire day revolves around the admission of their child. Justifying their stand, most of them say: “After all it is the right schooling that determines their upbringing”.

Police needs a PR

Public Relation offices are a must in modern world. Both government and private agencies are becoming increasingly aware about the benefits of a PR man. The Police Department of the city is, however, yet to realise this. Everytime the police is organising a press conference, one or the other media person does not get the invitation. While he has every reason to be sore, police officials explain that the number of media persons have become so large that some person is always missed out. They concede that perhaps if they have one PR official of their own then the things could be arranged better.

Expert disclaimer

The local MC officials are expert at denying or disclaiming the accusations or responsibility of a lapse. If there was gastro outbreak, it claimed the water was not supplied by it to the area. Then it disclaimed responsibility about dengue outbreak. And now it has issued a disclaimer about being responsible for the falling of a child in an open manhole. Going a step further, they claimed the hole was private and it was contemplating legal action against the family. There must be more such manholes but the MC will keep on disclaiming the responsibility.

Bar elections

Lawyers fight with each other in the court. But at this time of the year, they slog it our outside the court rooms for winning the bar elections. Just to remind you, this is the largest bar association of North India. This time the winner of the president’s seat for the last many years has decided to keep away from Bar politics and give time to his family. Only time will tell whether the calculations will change this year or not.

CNG bus rule

The pollution levels are rising everyday in city. There is nothing new about it. But the local residents are waiting for a solution to the problem. After the CNG bus rule has become applicable in the national Capital, the local residents are also waiting for such an exercise in the city. With the pollution levels in the city attaining alarming concentration in the air due to the ever-increasing number of automobiles on city roads, such a rule will be a welcome step for the sufferers. Although the local traffic police has launched a number of drives from time to time, all of these either failed to take off or were not implemented properly. The autorickshaws continue to play havoc with the lives of innocent people by emitting poisonous gases in the environment. The CNG rule will at least ensure a cleaner environment, and if it comes in the city, lakhs of people will have a whiff of fresh air after a long time.

Shark fin

The internationally banned shark fin soup that is said to have taken a toll on the population of sharks in the world is still being sold at some city based restaurants. This despite the fact that the media has taken up the issue several times. Neither the authorities of the Wild Life Department have taken any action against the defaulters, nor do the restaurant owners themselves remove the soup from their menu. Height of insensitivity!


The other day a teenager girl fell when her scooter skided on a busy road in the city. Despite the fact that hundreds of commuters were seen on the road, nobody came to her rescue. She, after a span of few seconds, managed to control herself and stood on the road to take control of her scooter. Unable to succeed she stopped another girl passing by her. Both somehow managed to make the scooter stand on its wheels. Many people witnessed the incident. Some kept standing, while others did not even bother to stop to help her.

— Sentinel



Councillors hail more powers to Mayor 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 16
The atmosphere was festive, with bhangra dancers, fireworks and flowers all over the main office of Municipal Corporation here. The occasion was the City Mayor Mr Nahar Singh Gill coming to the office after the government had announced granting more administrative and financial powers to Mayors of all five MCs in Punjab.

Cutting across party lines the councillors from the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party got together in the pandal, specially put up outside the MC office for the purpose and in unison, felicitated the Mayor as well as the state government for bestowing more powers to the elected head of the civic body.

Earlier, as the official vehicle of the Mayor arrived at Mata Rani Chowk, a little distance from the MC headquarters, a large number of party councillors, his close supporters and a group of bhangra dancers welcomed Mr Gill and after offering garlands, he was asked to board a flower bedecked Gypsy to proceed to the MC office in ‘style’.

Prominent among those present at the occasion were Mr Surinder Dawar, MLA, Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr Jagmohan Sharma, president, District Congress Committee (Urban), Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, former president, DCC(U), Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, former president, DCC (Rural), Mr Prem Mittal, Senior Deputy Mayor, Ms Sushil Gupta, Deputy Mayor, Mr Ramesh Joshi and Ms Barjinder Kaur, both secretaries, PPCC, Mr Harbhajan Singh Dang, group leader, SAD-B councillors and Mr Parveen Bansal, group leader, BJP councillors.

Felicitating Mayor for having been granted more powers, Mr Dawar, Mr Dang, Mr Bansal, Mr Hakim Singh Giaspura (SAD-B), Mr Surjit Singh Ahluwalia (Cong), both members of the Finance and Contracts Committee, Mr Simarjit Singh Bains (SAD-A), Mr Hans Raj (BSP), both Deputies of the Mayor and many other councillors expressed the confidence that armed with more powers, the Mayor would, henceforth, play a pivotal role in the process of development of the city. In particular, the councillors from opposition parties assured full backing to Mr Gill with the hope that the development of the city as a whole would take precedence over political considerations and allocation of funds for this purpose would be need based without any political bias.

Mr Gill, responding to the sentiments expressed by councillors and other speakers assured them that the agenda of overall development of the city would have his top priority and all development projects would be decided on merit. He said even though he was a Congressman to the core and had come to occupy the coveted post by virtue of being the leader of his party councillors yet he considered all the councillors, including those from opposition parties, as his allies. The Mayor reiterated his commitment to ensure that the elected representatives were accorded due respect and dignity by the civic officials.



Pharmacists burn Director’s effigy

Ludhiana, December 16
Members of the Punjab State Pharmacists’ Association today held a demonstration outside the Civil Surgeon’s office here. They burnt an effigy of their Director, Dr Devinder Pal Singh Sandhu.

Mr Didar Singh Mullanpuri, secretary of the association, said that the department had made “vindictive transfers Pharmacists said their posts should be renamed as Pharmacy Officer, Senior Pharmacy Officer and Chief Pharmacy Officer. Among others present on the occasion were Mr Jaswinder Singh, president of the association, Mr Nirbhai Singh, Mr Himmat Singh, Mr Gobind Ram and Mr Kulbhushan Singla. OC



Ex-soldiers to observe ‘black day’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 16
Black Day, all over the country, will be observed on December 22 by Indian Ex-Services League, since the Govt of India has failed to accept their long standing demands such as one rank, one pension, removal of 33 years condition of earnful pension, revision of disability pension, alternative jobs to ex-servicemen, and restoring the status of defence personnel, said Col Bhag Singh, VSM (retd), President, Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) Ludhiana District meeting.


CSI award for Stan Autos

Ludhiana, December 16
Stan Autos, dealers of Maruti Udyog Limited have bagged yet another award. This time it is the Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) award which was presented to Dr Naresh Malhotra and his brother Anil Malhotra at the Maruti dealers meet recently. The award was jointly presented to them by the Managing Director of the MUL, Mr Jagdish Khattar. TNS



Petrol price hike assailed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 16
Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani, President, Punjab Beopar Mandal, today assailed the hike in the prices of diesel and petrol. In a statement Mr Jaitwani said it was strange that international prices of petrol and diesel had fallen whereas the Central Government was raising the prices of the same every month.



Nirdosh Dhand arrested for gambling
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 16
Nirdosh Dhand, who was disowned by the Congress because of his involvement in a number of criminal cases , was arrested last night in a raid on gamblers in New Kundan Puri by a police party from the Division No 8 police station.

Others who were arrested along with him are Vijay Kumar Dhand, Gurpreet Singh, a resident of New Kundan Puri, Harjit Singh, a resident of Hargobind Pura, Sunil Dhir, a resident of Chander Nagar, Jasbir Singh, a resident of Chhawni Mohalla and Dalip Kumar, a resident of Ram Nagar.

The police said today that the suspects were gambling at a public place in New Kundan Puri and a sum of Rs 53,050 was seized from their possession.



Couple booked on fraud charge
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 16
The Division No 2 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 420 and 120 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Sudhir Ahuja, Assistant General Manager, State Bank of India, Miller Ganj, against Ashok Kumar and his wife Vandna Garg, residents of New Shimla Puri on Daba Road. The complainant had stated that the suspects had taken a loan of Rs 2.20 lakh from the bank but did not return any instalment to repay it. No arrest has been made so far.

Case registered: The Focal Point police registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC on a statement of Mr Chander Mohan, a resident of Dhandari Kalan, against an unidentified driver of a vehicle, who hit a person in front of the Oriental Bank branch at Dhandari Kalan on Sunday night, killing him on the spot. No arrest has been made so far.

Theft alleged: The Division No 3 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 379 and 34 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Inderjit Singh, a resident of Mohalla Kot Alamgir, against Navdeep Kumar, alias Shelley, a resident of Basant Nagar, Vikas Kumar, who lives near the Sanglan Wala Shivala, and Pankaj Malhotra, a resident of the Nim Wala chowk area. The complainant, who repairs mobile phones, had alleged that he had gone to a vegetable market on a scooter carrying 10 mobile phones in an envelope which was kept in the scooter . When he came back after buying vegetables, he found that the suspects had stolen the envelope containing the mobile phones. No arrest has been made so far.

Cases of assault: The Koom Kalan police yesterday registered a case under Sections 341,323,506 and 34 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Darshan Singh, a resident of Dholanwal village, against Randhir Singh, Santokh Singh and Mohinder Singh, residents of the same village. The complainant had alleged that the suspects intercepted him on Sunday morning in the village, beat him up and also threatened him. No arrest has been made so far.

The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 451, 506, 323, 427, 147 and 149 of the IPC on a statement of Mr Balbir Singh, a resident of Sarup Nagar, against Jasbir Singh, Amarjit Kaur, Sonu, Raju, Rinku, Tinku and Ram Bahadur, all residents of the same locality. The complainant had alleged that the suspects came to his house on Sunday, beat him up and also threatened him. The suspects also damaged his household goods. No arrest has been made so far.

Newborn abandoned: The Shimla Puri police yesterday registered a case under Section 328 of a IPC on the statement of Jatinder Singh, a reporter working with “Charrdhi Kala” newspaper and living in Harkrishan Nagar, against a woman who abandoned a new born in the locality on Monday afternoon. No arrest has been made so far.



Gas to replace coal in industries
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, December 16
“The Government of India has given a green signal to supply natural gas for use as fuel in factories and plants to facilitate pollution-free environment in the states. The Punjab Government has also assured co-operation in the implementation of the scheme, said Mr J. Washan, Director (zonal), Gas Authority of India Ltd, here on Monday.

He had come here to survey the needs and requirements for the supply of gas to the industry so that pipelines could be laid accordingly.

While addressing the workshop, Director, NISST, Mr S.I. Singh, said the gas supply for industrial fuel in the state was a good beginning.

The Deputy Director, Dr Rishi Srivastava, said with the induction of natural gas, the pollution problems would come to an end. The Zonal Chief, Mr Washan, said it would reduce the maintenance costs of machinery. In association with the Indian Oil Corporation, a refinery would shortly come up in the state.

Representatives of GAIL, SRMAI forging industry, AISRA and NISST participated in the discussion, which included Mr Rattan Pal Bhatia, Mr Raj Jindal and Mr Rajnesh Bhatia.



Airtel full service outlet opened
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 16
Airtel, India's premier mobile service today ushered in a new era of convenience for its customers, with the opening of an Airtel FSO at Model Town here. Airtel has a large number of customers in Model Town and they will be able to get a large number of services under one roof, including recharge coupons, new connections etc, said one of company's spokesperson.

Inaugurating the FSO, Mr Vinod Sawhney, CEO & Director-Mobility, Bharti Mobile Limited said: “Airtel is committed to providing the latest technology and the best of service to its customers. Airtel is the fastest growing cellular service in Punjab and a major reason for this is its customer-friendly approach.”


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