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Ikwinder cremated amid grief, anger
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Kalsan (Raikot) January 31
Parents of Ikwinder Kaur of this village have sought an explanation from the Indian Embassy at Manila, Philippines, on why it did not come to the aid of Punjabi NRIs trying to send their daughter‘s body to India or initiate a probe into the circumstances leading to her death.

Meanwhile, fearing police action, Ajmer Kaur, mother-in-law of the deceased , who lived in Mullanpur village here, has gone missing. She has been named as an accused by the family in an FIR lodged at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. Her house was found locked by a Tribune team today. Neighbours said she had not been seen for the past three days.

It is feared that she mayt have gone abroad to escape arrest. Ikwinder's parents allege that she used to live mostly in the Philippines and harass their daughter for dowry. She had recently come here and was in India when Ikwinder died.

The cremation of Ikwinder Kaur, alias Bindu, took place at this village this afternoon amid heart-rending scenes. Peoples’ anger against her-in-laws was evident.

It will be an uphill task for the family to initiate legal action against the woman's husband, Rajinder Singh Kular, alias Raju, based in Manila.

Legal experts said unless the Indian Government took up the matter with the Philippines government, there was no hope of action against Ikwinder’s husband.

Mr Karnail Singh, father of the deceased, said Roopinder Singh, who belonged to Billa village in this district and was settled in Manila, was instrumental in sending the body back home He had learnt about the case when the body of the victim was lying in a hospital at Manila.

He called up the family here and spend money from his own pocket to send the body back .

The body was brought to the village at about midnight last night.



Bird flu scare hits poultry farmers
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Although avian influenza (bird flu) has not been reported so far in the country, but it has started taking its toll on poultry farmers and meat sellers. Owing to the contradictory reports about the possible risks from the consumption of chicken and eggs, most people have switched over to a vegetarian diet. With the result, the sale of poultry products has come down in substantial proportions.

Yesterday a meeting of the Punjab Poultry Farmers Association was held here to take stock of the situation. The association leaders regretted the "disinformation" about the avian influenza scare being spread in the state. They observed that the media was to be blamed to a large extent as it had not furnished complete facts.

The association members met the Animal Husbandry Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, and the Punjab Agricultural University Vice- Chancellor, Dr KS Aulakh, seeking their support to dispel wrong notions about the consumption of chicken.

The association members today distributed copies of the advertisements published by the National Egg Coordination Committee and the Poultry Development and Promotion Council in leading newspapers , which claims: "it is safe to eat chicken like it has always been".

The association members said during the past four days the sale of chicken and eggs had come down by over 75 per cent.

"What to speak of fresh orders, even old orders have been cancelled", the members lamented. They claimed that even the World Heath Organisation had not reached the conclusion that processed poultry products (whole refrigerated or frozen carcasses and products derived from them) and eggs arriving from areas witnessing the outbreak of avian influenza H5N1 in poultry flocks pose a risk to public health.

Mr Avneet Singh, a leading poultry farmer, regretted the disinformation. He pointed out when the world was afraid of importing poultry from countries effected with avian influenza, India held a vast scope for exports as there was no reported case of the disease. "But unfortunately that opportunity has been wasted, thanks to the disinformation by the media", he regretted, adding, "what to speak of exports, we have even lost domestic customers".

Retail broiler sellers and processed meat sellers have also reported a massive fall in the sale of chicken. Some leading processed meat sellers on Pakhowal Road and Malhar Road have reported fall in sales . Some of them have even stopped the sale of chicken and eggs.



Your parcel may be tampered with!
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
There are an increasing number of complaints froml local businessmen about the parcels they send to buyers being tampered with on the way. While the postal department and the railways blame each other, the suppliers feel cheated. In most of the cases, they are not able to get compensation.

The industrialists, particularly hosiery manufacturers, have been complaining that the tampering seems to have become a routine affair . They maintain that there is nobody to listen to their complaints.

One recent case that came to notice related to Kevin Knitwears owned by Mr Sajju Ninan. He said that on January 12, he booked a parcel through speedpost for Satara.

When the parcel reached the party at Satara, he found it tampered. He checked with Mr Ninan, who gave him details of the packing. The buyer refused to accept the parcel. Ultimately it was returned.

Much to the surprise of Mr Ninan, instead of receiving the parcel at the post office, from where he had booked it, he was asked to receive it at the Railway Mail Service (RMS) office at Miller Ganj on January 28.

However, when he saw the parcel tampered with ,he refused to accept it. He said, he could see the seal had been broken and it had been stitched afresh. he opened it in front of RMS officials. While he had sent 19 T- shirts, which had been mentioned in the bill, he found only two in the box.

the box had been filled with books, some medical journals and waste- paper. Mr Ninan said he had to suffer huge losses as this was going on for many years. He said when he approached the RMS authorities, they said it might have been tampered with during the rail transit.

Railway and postal officials refused to comment but admitted they were receiving regular complaints about tampering of parcels.

They expressed helplessness in the matter, laming they were only the couriers. The parcel was in transit for about four days and passed through many hands. It was difficult to pinpoint blame, they added.



3 held with fake currency notes
Our Correspondent

Samrala, January 31
Mr Jasbir Singh, DSP, said in a press conference here today that secret information had been received during a naka that Devinder Singh, Sandeep Singh and Jarnail Singh, all residents of Samrala, were allegedly involved in the printing of fake currency notes on computer and were circulating these in Samrala and adjoining towns.

The suspects have been arrested and a case under Sections 489-A, 489-B, 489-D and 420, IPC, registered against them.

Fake currency notes of the denominations of Rs 1,000 and Rs 100 have been seized. A computer has also been seized from the possession of Devinder Singh.



Sahit Akademi honours seven
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
Kartar Singh Dhaliwal Awards for 2002 were given to seven eminent writers at a function held at Punjabi Sahit Akademi here today. The top honour went to Santokh Singh Dhir.

The awards have been instituted in the memory of the late Kartar Singh Dhaliwal of Rakhra by his family. The award comprises Rs 1 lakh in cash, besides a citation and a shawl. Receiving the award from novelist Jaswant Sigh Kanwal, Dhir said he was pleased to recieve the honour which was more prestigious than the awards given by the government.

Others awardees were Dr Harkirat Singh, Dr Satinder Singh Noor, Mr Manmohan Bawa, Mr Deepak Jatoi, Principal Kuldeep Kalpana and Mr Lal Singh Dil. They were all given Rs 21, 000 in cash, a citation and a shawl each.

The first award in the newcomer category was given to playwright Bhupinder Singh. The award comprises Rs 11,000 in cash, a citation and a shawl. The former president of the akademi, Mr Amrik Singh Pooni, was given Rs 21, 000 in cash, a citation and a shawl.



Tohra eyeing Dewan funds, says Khalsa Panchayat
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 29
The Khalsa Panchayat has appealed to Sikh leaders not to politicise the functioning of the century-old Chief Khalsa Dewan, which was one of the oldest educational and social organisation of Sikhs running scores of schools and other institutions in the state.

Talking to TNS, Mr Charanjit Singh Khalsa, a panch of the outfit, alleged that SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and his supporters were trying to tighten control over the functioning of the institution and were using the good offices of the Akal Takht Jathedar for this purpose.

He said after the death of Mr Kirpal Singh, the chief of the dewan, the members stood polarised among the Calcutta - Ankhi and C S Chadha - Dr Santokh Singh groups.

As per a well-planned conspiracy, 286 members had been expelled just a day before polling. This was around 50 percent of the total membership of the august body. He said their organisation had urged the Akal Takht Jathedar to keep away from the controversy which was aimed at narrow personal gains.

The panch said they had posed some questions to the Akal Takht chief regarding the controversy. Can old members expel other members just to tighten their hold on the working of the organisation? Does the 100- year- old body not have any say in its internal matters?. Why is the Jathedar of Akal Takht interfering in the internal affairs of a registered body, which everyone knows, is aimed at controlling the huge budget of the Chief Khalsa Dewan?

He said the people should see through the game plan of the SGPC chief and come together to foil the move The outfit has appealed to the Akal Takht Jathedar to press for early elections since this was the only possible way to resolve the issue.



Thousands throng Harisar dera
Our Correspondent

Kila raipur (Ludhiana), January 31
Thousands of devotees thronged Dera Harisar to pay homage to Paramhans Swami Dyal Puri on the occasion of his “nirvana mahotsav” which concluded here last evening. Swami Budh Puri, who heads the dera, presided over the proceedings.

The three-day festival began on Monday with bhajan-kirtan sessions. Qawwals and musicians from Gujarat performed. Swami Budh Puri gave a demonstration on “sidhamrit surya kirya yoga” which had been perfected by him after a long research.

On Tuesday, an akhand path of Ramayana was initiated which was followed by a five-hour sant sammelan.



Action against union leaders sought
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
The president of the Hero DMC Heart Institute Employees Welfare Association, Ms Rajwant Randhawa, has condemned the threat issued by the DMCH Employees Union that if its demands were not met, it would resort to an agitation.

Reacting over posters on walls on hospital premises, Ms Randhawa said a handful of union leaders wanted to disrupt the functioning of the hospital.

She said employees of the hospital would not cooperate with these union leaders. She said instead of adopting the path of agitation, the union leaders should initiate a dialogue with the management. She urged the Deputy Commissioner, the SSP and other officials to take action against the union leaders.



Seminar on women’s rights

Ludhiana, January 31
The Department of Political Science, SDP College for Women, organised a seminar on “Women’s rights and counselling” in the college seminar hall on Thursday. It was organised as part of World Human Rights Day celebrations.

Dr Manmeet Grewal, a counselling psychologist, and Ms Preeti Kansal, a human rights activist, made the teachers and students aware of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. — OC



Pension formula unjust

MORE than seven lakh government employees, including those working in various boards and corporations and pensioners, are unhappy with the Capt Amarinder Singh regime for its ‘anti-employee policies’. The new pension commutation formula has added fuel to the fire. It has imposed a major cut in the commutation of pension of those retiring after July 31, 2003. The formula is most unjust and it needs to be rolled back immediately.

Under the new formula, a person who retires at the age of 58 will get commutation at the rate of 6.21 per cent instead of 10.46 per cent as was provided under the old formula. It means under the new rules, the retirees will get nearly Rs 60,000 instead of Rs 1,00,000. Besides, the rate of interest chargeable on the commuted pension has been raised from 4.75 to 8 per cent under the new rules. It is again a minus point of the new dispension.

The revised formula does not apply in the case of Punjab cadre IAS officers. They are governed by the Central Civil Service rules. They will get the commutation of pension at the higher rate than that of other employees. It is a case of sheer discrimination.

Several representations of this issue have already been sent to the Chief Minister, urging him to restore the old formula. In case, the Captain government fails to withdraw the new formula. It will cost the Congress dear in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

Yash Paul Ghai, Ludhiana

The right officer on the right job

I fully agree with the comments of Major S.S. Khosla (‘The Captain should be in command’ — Ludhiana Tribune, Jan 18, 2004) that the civic body authorities need to show reasonably good performance and improved governance rather than making hollow statements or promises from time to time.

He has rightly suggested that the Chief Minister needs to place the right officers on the right jobs. This could be done even at this late stage. The officers as public servants should know the ground realities in providing elementary and essential requirements of roads, water, etc. for good civic life.

He is also right that the PRO of the Chief Minister is not providing timely right information to the CM. My experience corroborates with the assertion made. For instance, I had written to Captain Amarinder Singh, at least eight letters in the period starting from 24th Feb. 2002 (at Patiala address), 17th April-16th December 2002 (at Chandigarh address), regarding an illegal constructions raised by owner of house No. 451 B, BRS Nagar, but had not got any response from him. The reasons for the same are best known to him or his office.

However, it is suggested that CM office should ensure that the letters received are acknowledged or the actions taken informed. The CM office should rather develop a foolproof system of acknowledging all the letters received by Capt. Amarinder Singh, CM, and his office must keep a track of their disposal. The PRO is also required to keep the CM posted with reality of situation, facts of the complaints made, or suggestions/reports published as feedback in various newspapers.

Regarding basic civic amenities, the citizens of Ludhiana have been pointing out repeatedly that repair or resurfacing of roads, sanitation, etc. should be attended to regularly. The parks have been crying for urgent development and maintenance. Hopefully, the civic authorities would pay heed, with a sense of urgency, to the voice of the people and would not hesitate in future to allocate the necessary funds for the said amenities on permanent basis.

The civic body, which earlier had taken up wide-ranging reforms ensuring participation of all sections of society in public life and has been acting as intermediary between the citizens and the elected local government (which led to its recognition as a role model by Planning Commission), has been undone recently in respect of management of parks in the mega city. It is very unfortunate that instead of involving the citizens in their upkeep, the parks have been or are being given to contractors for maintenance. It is simply a retrograde step.

Dr Gurkirpal Singh, Ludhiana

Wooing voters with bonanzas immoral

Since independence hardly any government at the Centre has announced sops and bonanzas at the 11th hour before dissolving Parliament. The concessions extended in thousands of crores to agriculture sector, industries and to the downtrodden people without the budgetary sanction is not in proper spirit.

Now there is the turn for government employees and pensioners to get some. Bonanza in the shape DA/DR (though it is due w.e.f. 1-1-2004) and merging of 50 per cent of DA/DR with basic salary pension. The NDA government wants to cash on with bonanzas or development to win over the Lok Sabha election.

This is worth mentioning that this very amount is collected by the government through various taxes and duties etc. and is public. The government is the custodian of this money which is meant to be spent for the people. Thus, voters should not be misled by such bonanzas. Development is the duty of the government in power. Even the British made big development by bringing the Railway system, digging many canals for irrigation purpose and also in the education sector.

Sher Singh, Ludhiana



Two arrested with poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 31
Two persons were arrested by the Haibowal police yesterday and booked separately under the NDPS Act following recovery of poppy husk from their possession.

While Avtar Kumar, a resident of Basant Vihar Nagar in Shimla Puri was nabbed with 6.5 kg of poppy husk, Charanjit Singh, a resident of Kulal village falling under the jurisdiction of Jagraon police station, was arrested from Partap Singhwala village and 9 kg of the contraband was seized from his possession.

Stolen cars recovered

The division number 2 police yesterday arrested Sunil Kumar, alias Bobby, a resident of Mani Majra, near Chandigarh, now living in Guru Arjan Dev Nagar here, Raj Kumar, alias Raju, a resident of Prem Vihar on Tibba road, Gurmit Singh, alias Bunty, a resident of Guru Nanak Colony near Gill village, and Balwant Singh, alias Kaka, a resident of Qilla Mohalla near Chand cinema and booked them under Sections 328 and 411 of the IPC.

The police said today that the accused were carrying out thefts by administering intoxicants to unsuspecting victims and making them unconscious. Two cars — an Indica and a Maruti — were also seized form the possession of the accused, added the police.

The division number two police also recovered a stolen Matiz car from the possession of Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, after he was arrested following a tip-off yesterday. The police had got information that the accused along with his accomplice Sandip Dhir were engaged in stealing cars and selling the same with the help of forged documents. The police said today that hunt for the other accused was on.

Cases of alleged fraud

The division number 3 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 408 and 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Ravi Kumar, a resident of Roopa Mistry Street, against Anil Kumar and his wife Gangotary, residents of Shahid Bhagat Singh Colony near Hanuman Mandir at Delhi. The complainant had stated that the accused had bought goods worth Rs 2,64,000 from him but had not paid him back so far. No arrest has been made so far.

The division number 5 police yesterday registered a case under Sections 468 and 471 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Sumas Sood, a resident of LIG Flats, Urban Estate at Dugri, against Ajit Kumar, a resident of the same locality. The complainant had stated that the accused had taken possession of his house on the basis of forged documents. No arrest has been made so far.

Another case of alleged fraud was registered at the same police station under sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Ms Satya Sehgal, a resident of Chander Nagar, against Sudesh Sethi, his wife Swarna Sethi and Kewal Singh, residents of Sarabha Nagar, Parshottam Lal Numberdar, a resident of Kara Bara village and Charanjit Singh, a resident of Chhowni Mohalla. The woman had stated that the accused had prepared forged documents on the basis of which they got her plot in Haibowal transferred in their names. No arrest has been made so far.

The Civil Lines police yesterday registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Jasvir Singh Khurana, who lives in Bharat Nagar, against Kulvir singh, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar. The complainant had stated that the accused had purchased furniture worth Rs 21,104 from him and given a cheque in lieu of the same. But the cheque was not honoured by the bank concerned and the accused had committed a fraud on him, added the complainant. No arrest has been made so far.

The Sarabha Nagar police registered a case under sections 468 and 471 of the IPC yesterday on the statement of Mr Chander Modal, a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, against Sandeep Dhir, a resident of the same locality now living in Isher Puri at Jalandhar. The complainant had alleged that the accused had sold a plot to him for Rs 5 lakh and he had made full payment to him. But the accused failed to get the same legally transferred in his name in spite of repeated reminders. The accused also refused to pay back the money taken by him, added the complainant. No arrest has been made so far.



Steel industry in crisis
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
All sections of society have received sops on the eve of parliamentary poll, except the small-scale sector. The SSIs have been left high and dry .

Mr P D Sharma, President, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industr,y said here today that custom duty on major inputs, including special steels and non-ferrous metals had been drastically reduced from 20 per cent to 10 per cent but steel grades commonly used by the small-scale sector had been kept at 20 per cent.

When this was brought to the notice of the Secretary, Ministry of Small- Scale Industry and the Development Commissioner, both were surprised.

As a last -ditch effort, Mr Sharma apprised these functionaries about the state of affairs. A detailed note was also sent to them. The officials were now pursuing the issue with the Finance Ministry to get the custom duty on steel slashed to 10 per cent.

He said it was unfortunate that the Ministry of Steel was feeding the Finance Minister with distorted facts. At the global steel -2004 conference at Mumbai, facts on the cost of steel production given by the steel ministry favoured steel producers.

The government had recently reduced the custom duty on cooking coal from 25% to 15% ,resulting in a total reduction of more than 15% . This naturally reduced the cost of steel production.

Some mention was also made at the conference about the abnormal rise in the prices of iron ore. The international price of iron ore was about $ 30 per tonne but steel producers were quoting if at $ 70 per tonne.

At the conference a loud mention was made about the scarcity and high prices of scrap. This was also misleading as integrated steel plants did not use steel scrap. They produced steel from iron ore.

Mr Sharma said he was in touch with politically influential persons to apprise the government of the "real facts ".It was likely that custom duty on steel may be reduced to 10 per cent when the Finance Minister read his interim budget.

The foundries based on pig iron were in a terrible state. Pig iron was an intermediate production in the production of steel and its availability was ample. Due to cartelisation manufacturers were exploiting the consumers of pig iron, Mr Sharma said.

The Punjab government was not proving help to the steel consuming industry in Punjab. More than 50 per cent of steel consumed was manufactured locally. Steel furnaces were power - intensive units and power played a vital role in the price of steel.

Mr Sharma said he had requested the Chief Minister at a meeting with industrialists at Punjab Bhavan to reduce the power tariff to 50 per cent on power used during the night.

The PSEB had surplus power during the night and steel- producing units were run around the clock. If this night tariff was reduced to 50 per cent it would give reasonable relief to the steel consumers.

Apart from steel prices, steel producing units would also get relief. Owing to the Central government's policy to exempt the industry in adjoining states from central excise and income tax , steel- producing units in Punjab were already in a crisis.

The rates of power in these states ranged from Rs 1.4 to Rs 1.9 per unit, whereas the rate in Punjab was Rs 3.80 per unit.



Another blow to cycle exporters
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 31
The bicycle and parts exporters have received another blow from the Centre with the reduction in duty drawback rates.

Mr Rajinder Jindal, president, Engineering Exporters Association of India, said the exporters were feeling betrayed by the government as it had asked for data from them up to February 15 for new drawback rates but had now announced the rates without considering their representations.

He said the exporters were getting a raw deal from the government for the past many years. The continuously rising steel prices, the weakened US dollar, the withdrawal of income tax benefits and the reduction in incentives has virtually crippled the industry, he added.

Mr Jindal asserted that many representations had been sent to the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Commerce for review of the decision of reduction in duty drawback rates.


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