L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Dowry case takes another twist
Move to declare NRI in-laws POs
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
The district police has initiated proceedings to declare a US-based NRI family proclaimed offenders in a dowry case registered at the Model Town police station here by their city-based daughter-in-law two years ago.

The NRIs had agreed to pay $ 1.5 lakh to the girl’s family as part of the compromise deal struck between them to settle the issue.

The case was reopened after the family could pay only $ 90,000. The NRIs, however, have claimed that they had fulfilled the compromise deal.

While the NRIs — Desh Paul Mehta and his son, Max Mehta — and some relatives have in letters to The Tribune alleged that they are the real victims in the case and are being blackmailed through the misuse of the Dowry Act, the police is convinced that the charges levelled by the daughter-in-law, Rajni Kalra, and her father, Virender Kalra, are true.

The police has proceeded on getting the suspects declared proclaimed offenders after rejecting their allegations that the dowry charges and the compromise deal was effected after some policemen were allegedly bribed by the opposite party in the case.

The case was closed after the deal was struck in September last year. However, two months later, it was reopened as the full compromise amount had not been paid. Mr R.K. Jaiswal, SP (Headquarters), had conducted the inquiry along with Model Town SHO Harjinder Singh. Talking to The Tribune, the police officials said the NRIs had breached the compromise.

The case file includes allegations and counter-allegations filed by both parties. As per the file, Desh Paul Mehta’s son Max Paul Mehta had married Rajni Kalra, daughter of Virender Kalra, a resident of Model Town, in 1999. The couple had a son. In 2002, the girl came back from the USA alleging maltreatment and demand for dowry. The local police arrested Desh Paul Mehta, Max Paul Mehta and other members of the family in November, 2002, when they came to India.

Desh Paul Mehta claimed that they were unaware of the dowry case lodged against them and had treated the girl well. They claimed that they were harassed by the police and forced to sign the compromise. As per the deal, the NRIs were to pay $ 1.5 lakh but they have paid only $ 1 lakh so far.

The NRIs, who had not been able to return abroad had paid $ 40,000 as the first instalment to be allowed to leave the country. Mehta claims that he was forced to pay. However, the police said he brought about the compromise just to get off the hook. He sent $ 60,000 from the USA but allegedly refused to pay more.

Desh Paul Mehta says he did not pay the remaining amount as the girl’s family was demanding $ 80,000 more. This charge has been denied by the girl’s family and the police.



City breaks into a jig as India romp home
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
The city broke into a rousing bhangra as Nehra bowled a quick one and the Pakistani batsman holed out a catch, giving India a thrilling five -run win in the first ODI played at Karachi today. Firecrackers were burst and the streets were flooded with people as the residents came out to celebrate a historic win for the country on Pakistan soil.

Till the last ball had been bowled and victory clinched, Ludhiana resembled a ghost town as a majority of the residents sat glued before their television sets. In fact, till evening, it was a cool, calm and quiet day. It seemed as if a curfew situation prevailed in the usually bubbling mega city of the region.

The roads, which usually remain overcrowded here, had a deserted look. Even the markets wore a deserted look. A happy traffic cop said he could not remember a better day than today, as he could notice very few vehicles on the roads.

Despite a mammoth Indian total, the fans kept their fingers crossed. There was an element of uncertainty and disbelief throughout the game till its exciting end.

For cricket fans, there could not be a better Indian beginning. Mr Rajinder Sharma, a businessman, pointed out, “well begun is half done”. He observed that today's victory will definitely take away pressure and tension from the Indian players. They can play with a psychological advantage over their traditional rivals, he added.

For Yadvinder Singh Johal, a class V student of Guru Nanak Public School Mullanpur, Indians playing in Pakistan was something unheard of, as by the time he grew up, Indians had stopped playing in Pakistan. An excited Yadvinder pointed out, “if they can do it in Karachi they can do it in Lahore as well and I am sure our team will win the series”.

Various cinema halls today ran the cricket show only, while some hotels like Park Plaza and Nanda had installed giant screens to show the historic match between the arch rivals.



Confusion over water supply scheme for panchayats
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
Confusion, allegedly fuelled by official apathy, is proving to be a major stumbling block in handing over the work of implementing the Rural Drinking Water Supply Scheme to Village Water Supply and Sanitation Committees (VWSC). These committees are yet to be elected in villages. A notification by the state government has asked the department concerned to hand over the charge of the scheme to the committees by April 1.

Officials of the Panchayat Department express ignorance about the notification issued on January 13 and the mandatory procedure to be followed for electing the committees. The notification itself does not speak anything about the handing over the scheme to panchayats as claimed by the government.

As per the notification issued by Mr Vijay Kain, Principal Secretary to the Government of Punjab, state government has notified the transfer of 876 single-village rural water supply schemes, presently handled by the Department of Public Health, along with their functions, funds and functionaries to the committees.

The committees are to be constituted by village consumers and beneficiaries of the scheme under the Swajaldhara programme. The notification further states that these committees should be affiliated with the District Water and Sanitation Committee.

While the notification was issued two months ago and the transfer of work is to be done by April 1, the officials of the department concerned do not know anything about the procedure to be followed for the transfer of charge.

Though the notification clearly states that 15-day notice should be given for the election of members of the VWSCs, no such notice has been issued till date. Moreover, the notification does not say anything about the authority that will handle the accounts of these committees after that date. Sources in the Panchayat Department say the Public Health Department authorities have not contacted them for the handing over the charge till date. Mr S.C. Gupta, Superintending Engineer of the Public Health Department, Ludhiana, says there is no need to contact Panchayat Department officials as they have to hand over the charge to VWSCs and not to the panchayats.

When he was told that the committees had not been elected so far, he said if the committees were not formed, they would hand over the work to the panchayats. ‘‘We have to get rid of the charge by April 1 in any case. If nothing else is done, we will simply hand it over to the panchayats, ’’ he added.

When he was told that as per the notifications, the charge was to be given to the committees only and not to the panchayats, he feigned ignorance and said he would have to go through the notification again.

A Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) of the district said they had not even seen the notification and they did not know what was going on. He said he came to know about the transfer of the scheme at a meeting of the Zila Parishad.



Potholes appear in newly repaired road
Our Correspondent

Khamano, March 13
Potholes and ditches have appeared in the Khamano-Khanna road, which was repaired only four months ago. Peoples of many villages, including Bhambri, Farour, Thikriwal, Bhutta, Chari, Barwali Goslan, Manupur, Seh and Salodi, daily use this road on way to Khamano, Khanna and other towns.

Its stretch from Khamano up to Barwali village was repaired after repeated appeals and news reports. Leaders of the Kisan Union, Bhinder Singh Ranwan and Kuldip Singh Luharmajra, alleged that the material used for the road was of low quality. The remaining portion of the road, from Barwali to Khanna, is in bad shape. Union leaders have demanded a probe into the construction of the road. 



Aim not to hurt feelings of Valmikis, says author
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 13
A.R. Darshi, author of the allegedly controversial book “Janbaz Rakha”, has maintained that he had no intention nor did he conceive any idea of hurting the sentiments of the Valmiki community in his book.

Responding to the demand made by a section of Dalit activists to impose a ban on the book and take appropriate action against him and publishers of the book, Darshi, a retired PCS officer, said in a statement here that he had written the book originally in English under the title of “The Gallant Defender” in 1985. The book was later translated into Punjabi by Prof Kulbir Singh with the title “Janbaz Rakha”, and published by Bhai Chatar Singh and Sons of Amritsar.

He further said that he himself belonged to the Dalit community and when it was brought to his notice that the Punjabi translation of the book contained the term “Balmiki” on page 86, he immediately instructed the publishers to remove the word, and these instructions were complied. The new editions of the book, available in the market at present, did not contain the word “Balmiki” or any reference, whatsoever, to any particular community.



Industry seeks payment of subsidy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 13
The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has flayed the government for its alleged failure in giving effect to the assurance of early disbursement of pending amount of subsidy.

In a statement made here, Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president, and Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary of the chamber, lamented that the Punjab Government had become indifferent to the pathetic plight of industrialists, particularly those in the small and tiny sector. Even after making repeated claims that payment of pending subsidy would be made through issuing bonds and that the government had already sanctioned Rs 600 crore for disbursing in a phased manner every year up to 2008, starting from April, 2003, nothing concrete had been done so far, they said.

They observed that poor condition of the members of industry had been brought to the notice of the Punjab Chief Minister, his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials many times by the chamber and other bodies, but all representations had so far fallen on deaf ears.

Mr Pardhan further pointed out that the pending cases of summary assessment and deemed assessment cases of sales tax were also lying pending, despite the clear instructions by the government to clear the backlog by payment of Rs 100 against every Rs 1 lakh of the value of the case. On the contrary, the field staff of the Excise and Taxation Department had been insisting upon the industrialists to produce form ‘H’ and form ‘C’ for the goods involved, though no such condition had been laid down in the guidelines issued in this regard.

He urged the Chief Minister to intervene in these issues and arrange to disburse the amount of pending subsidies and direct the field staff of the Excise and Taxation Department to take up deemed assessment cases while maintaining status quo and not to demand Form ‘H’ and Form ‘C’ from the assessees.



Mini car a major attraction at auto fair
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
Twin, a two-seater car manufactured by Suzuki Motor Corporation, parent company of Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL), remains a prime attraction at the auto fair being going on here. The fair was inaugurated by the Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill.

Mr Hardeep Brar, Regional Manager, MUL, said 11 vehicles, including two from Suzuki Motor Corporation, are on display at the show. Although the visitors were making inquiries about all vehicles, ‘Twin’ remained the main attraction.

The company has no immediate plans to launch it in India in near future, but it is said to be running successfully in Japan, where it was launched last year. The double-engine vehicle is said to give a mileage of over 30 km per litre.

He said the aim of the show was to showcase Suzuki Motor’s leadership in environment friendly small car segment. 



BSNL working committee meeting begins
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 13
First Central Working Committee (CWC) meeting of executives of Sanchar Nigam Executive Association (BSNL) was inaugurated at Pal auditorium, Punjab Agriculture University, here today under the presidentship of Mr W. Seshagiri Rao (all-India president).

Mr G.L. Jogi, general secretary of the association, Mr Amarjit Singh, circle secy, Punjab circle , Mr Inderjit Singh, vice-president and Mr V.K. Tomar, gen secy MTWL, New Delhi, were the main speakers. About 110 delegates participated. 



SBI honours housing loan customer

Ludhiana, March 13
The State Bank of India, Gill Road branch, has granted 101 housing loans to customers during 2003-2004.
Mr S.K. Kapoor, Chief Manager, honoured its customer, Mr Ravinder Singh Khera, at a small function organised at the branch. Others present were Mr L.C. Hans, Assistant General Manager, Ludhiana centre, Mr N.K. Gosain and Mr S.S. Arora, Managers and Mr A.P. Singh, Assistant General Manager. — TNS


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