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20 vehicles with hi-tech gadgets to monitor highways
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, July 8
Road accidents claim more lives in Punjab each year than all murders, homicides and fatal diseases put together. The number of people who die in road accidents is three times more than the reported murders in the state. In view of this, the Punjab police introduced highway patrolling system here today in which 20 vehicles equipped with latest gadgets for traffic regulation and medical help would keep a vigil on select routes in the state. The vehicles were flagged off by Dr A.A. Siddiqui, DGP, Punjab.

These vehicles will be covering 20 highly sensitive stretches of national and state highways in the first phase of the action plan of the traffic wing of Punjab. All vehicles are equipped with a hooter, public address system, wireless and walkie-talkie set, video and still camera, first aid kit, stretcher, and dire extinguisher, among other things.

Patrol parties will reach the spot of accidents, and take the injured to hospital after providing necessary first aid. Over-speeding will also be checked. Before the flag-off ceremony, a conference was held which was attended by SSPs, DIGs and zonal IGPs. Mr S.K. Sharma, IG-Traffic, Punjab, said in 2003, as against 731 persons murdered in Punjab, 2712 persons died in road accidents.

On the front of enforcement, the traffic police had challaned, 3,33,836 vehicles during 2003 and realised a fine of Rs 9.35 crore. The maximum numbers of vehicles were challaned by Ludhiana district followed by Jalandhar. Dr Siddiqui stressed upon the creation of a single authority at the state level for the management of traffic in state departments like transport, PWD, local bodies and police. He said 26 more vehicles would be added to the existing fleet.

The activation of the road safety council constituted by the state government would be taken up along with issues pertaining to the issuance of driving licenses and enhancement of the challan fee in various categories, besides compounding of motor vehicle offices and opening of traffic parks in each district.

Special training programme for investigation staff of police stations would be undertaken to ensure proper investigation of all accident cases. He said the introduction of road safety as part of school curriculum at the primary and secondary levels was also a priority.

The DGP said the recent spate in crime was a “temporary phase” which would be over soon. “The rise in crime has been caused by some tribes and groups of vagabonds. As soon as they are arrested, the crime figures will drop. We have seen this happening once or twice every year”, he said.

“You will see a perceptible change soon. Such phases come off and on. The police has busted such gangs in the past and would nab criminals responsible for these crimes soon,’’ he said, adding that the police was increasing vigil on migrant labourers and members of some unique tribes who specialised in robbery and dacoity.

Declining to talk about the unsavory IPS-PPS officer’s row, he said it was unfortunate, “An officer is known by his work and behaviour and not whether he is IPS or PPS,’’ he said.

Referring to the recent alleged branding cases of jail inmates, he said the complainants in the cases at Amritsar and Jalandhar had already gone back on their allegations. He said there were only four custodial deaths in the state out of which two were cases of natural death while action had been taken against some officials in the other cases.

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Budget evokes positive response
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
The 2004-2005 budget proposals presented by the Union Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram in Parliament today has evoked a positive response from various cross-sections of society. With about one and a half crore middle class Indians getting out of the income tax net after the IT exemption limit was raised to Rs 1 lakh per annum and the increase in the rate of interest on the savings of senior citizens, the Budget is being considered to be “positive and people friendly”.

Added to it is the consideration given to the agriculture sector like cheaper credit, enhanced farm and cattle insurance and tax concessions for allied activities like horticulture and dairying seems to have endeared the Finance Minister to the agrarian community. Moreover, the extension of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana to another 50 lakh families, new food-for-work programme scheme in 150 backward districts, increased thrust on agriculture credit, excise duty exemption on dairy industry, promotion of agri-businesses, new farm insurance and irrigation schemes have been widely hailed.

The farming community could not have expected more than the doubling of the agricultural credit, acceleration of irrigation projects and investment in rural infrastructure, besides improvement in agricultural produce markets.

Mr V.K. Goyal, Chief Executive of Vardhaman Spinning and General Mills, described the Budget as development oriented. Taking an overall view of the Budget, he described it a “good budget”. He said with much focus on the rural sector, the economy would also grow as India mostly lived in villages.

Mr S.K. Rai, Managing Director, Hero Cycles and a former Chairman of the Punjab Council of Confederation of Indian Industry, also hailed the Budget, saying that it was a good Budget which took care of almost everyone from the industry to the common man.

Mr S.S. Kooner, a progressive farmer and a seed producer, described it as a positive development, particularly in terms of agriculture. He appreciated, in particular the thrust provided in the Budget to the agricultural marketing.

Raising of the income tax exemption limit to Rs 1 lakh has also been hailed, particularly among the salaried class. Mr Sanjeev Jain, a management executive in a private bank said the exemption limit was long over due.

Mr Kartar Singh Rathore, general secretary of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Punjab, an affiliate of the RSS, welcomed the exemption of the IT limit. 

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Rail tracks haven for drug peddlers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 8
Since all roadsides in the city, particularly within the old city limits, are already bursting at the seams with regard to encroachments, vacant space along the railway tracks is getting 'occupied' by a host of roadside business-makers with impunity.

Apart from the host of track-side vendors along the Delhi railway line near Gurdwara Dukhniwaran, a fish market has come up along the Dhuri railway line. This has become a haven for roadside lottery-sellers, tea vendors, barbers and vegetable sellers. Even the garbage-pickers, who need plenty of space for storing and sifting items of re-saleable garbage, have made a niche for themselves near the Shastri Public School falling in Miller Ganj.

It is mainly because of the presence of densely populated areas of Miller Ganj and Azad Nagar on either side of this track that the track-side markets have come up on both its sides running parallel to the markets of these localities. A number of shady characters have reportedly found it convenient to carry out their questionable activities here. Lottery sellers along the track are reportedly indulging in booking illegal 'satta' and 'darra' bets apart from booking lottery tickets on plain paper.

The Delhi railway line is reportedly playing a convenient host to drug-peddlers and sellers of bhang lassi. In fact, sandwiched between two police posts- one on the GT Road and the other on the other side of the track in Islam Ganj-there is a point along the rail track where a drug den has reportedly been operating for the past fifty years or so.

Several persons have even encroached upon the railway land along this track and built houses on the same. Little white stones bearing the letters NR (Northern railway) , showing it to be railway property, are now standing in residential streets at several places on the Islam Ganj side. Encroachments along the railway line to Jalandhar are also on the rise. People have built a semi-pucca colony along the track near the Damoria bridge which extends a long way towards the Buddha nullah bridge. Encroachments along this track on the Chhawni mohalla side are also growing. This stretch of the track -side, most of which is littered with garbage, is reportedly being used as a safe operating place by drug peddlers and sellers of hooch.

The division number 8 police had recently nabbed a drug-peddler from the area and booked him under the NDPS Act. But this has not acted as a deterrent. The stretch of rail track between the railway station and the Damoria bridge deserves special mention as it is reportedly the favourite haunt of some master minds who teach the 'art of stealing' to children. 

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Three killed as car rams into truck
Tribune News Service

Doctors attend to the injured Rekha at CMC Hospital
Doctors attend to the injured Rekha at CMC Hospital in Ludhiana.

Ludhiana, July 8
Three members of an orchestra were killed and three injured, one of them seriously, when the car in which they were travelling rammed into a parked truck near the Dhandari Kalan railway station this morning.

The orchestra, Raja Musical Group, including young girls, was returning from a marriage function in Patiala when the accident took place. The driver of the car apparently dozed off and lost control. The vehicle first hit a milestone and then rammed into the truck.

The deceased are Naresh (32), Rocky Bajaj(23) and Mamta (18). The injured Rekha, Reeta and Sushil are under-going treatment at CMC hospital here. Rekha is in critical condition, hospital sources said.

The Maruti car was completed crushed in the accident. The victims were stuck in the mangled car. It was with much difficulty that the police pulled them out.

Rocky Bajaj and Rekha are siblings and had bought a house yesterday. They were residents of New Azad Nagar near the Jalandhar byepass.

Mamta was a resident of Railway Colony here and the marriage of her elder sister was solemnised a couple of days ago.

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Excise evasion worth lakhs detected
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
The central excise preventive wing of the Central Excise Commission has detected a case of evasion of central excise duty worth Rs 21.11 lakh by M/s Kripal Exports, a textile unit.

The unit was engaged in the manufacture of knitted readymade garments, said a press note. The unit evaded the payment of the duty through suppression of production in excise records.

A team raided the factory premises on July 2 and found that the party had suppressed the production of 26151.8 kg of knitted fabrics.

The unit owners cleared the garments without an account in their records, without issuing a sale invoice and without paying the appropriate duty leviable on these. The party has admitted to the evasion and debited an amount of Rs 6.90 lakh on the spot. The balance would be deposited soon.

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Remove civic body chief, demand councillors
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, July 8
Ten councillors of the local Municipal Council have urged the Chief Minister to impress upon the authorities to appoint an administrator to run the local administration and remove Mr Rajnish Sharma from the office of president as a majority of councillors had already voted in favour of no-confidence motion on June 29.

In a communication addressed to the higher authorities, including the Chief Minister, the Minister for Local Bodies and the Director, Local Bodies, the councillors had accused Mr Sharma, a former OSD to former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, of using his political influence to stick to the post of president even though 10 out of 15 councillors had voted in favour of no-confidence motion.

The councillors said Mr Sharma was elected president unanimously last year. Though everything went smoothly for some months, councillors started feeling ignored later. Ultimately, 10 councillors namely Mr Sham Sunder, Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, Mr Kishori Lal Badhan, Mr Mohinder Paul Multani, Mr Jaswinder Singh Sodhi, Mr Yaseen, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, Ms Veena Puri, Ms Santosh Rani and Ms Chiter Rekha gave a written requisition to call a meeting for a debate on no-confidence motion. The meeting was held on June 29 and Mr Sharma presided over the meeting himself. Mr Sham Sunder and Mr Jatinder Bhola, both leader of the dissident councillors, said: “Not only he presided over the meeting, but also he tried to be the judge of the debate that was held to discuss no-confidence motion against him. The executive officer allegedly acted at his behest and he forwarded the proceedings to the higher authorities for the final decision.”

Mr Ravinder Kumar, president of the local unit of the Congress, and Mr Sudhir Singla, president, Youth Congress, have apprised the PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, of the situation. They have accused Mr Sharma of ignoring proposals and suggestions put forward by party leaders and workers. Elaborating on the issue, party office-bearers said: “It is astonishing that out of five councillors, who had won elections on party ticket, four voted against him and still he claimed to be a Congress leader. Senior leaders had already received reports that he had allegedly opposed the Congress nominee during Parliament elections.”

Meanwhile, leaders of the Municipal Safai Mazdoor Union have threatened to strike work if their salary for the month of June was not released. Mr Som Nath, its president, have gave the ultimatum in writing.

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Panthic Morcha leaders Cong agents, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
The SAD supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today said that the Panthic Morcha was the biggest threat to the Sikh Panth as its leaders were actually agents of the Congress. He was addressing a gathering in favour of SAD candidates Bhupinder Kaur Mahlo and Ranjit Singh Mangli for the SGPC poll at Koom Kalan today.

Stating that the ideology behind the morcha was not based on any principle and its leaders were driven by vested interests, Mr Badal said the Sikhs would never allow them to be successful in their ulterior motives.

Firing a salvo at the Congress-led government in the state, Mr Badal said had the Congress leaders been conscientious, they should have accepted their defeat in the Lok Sabha elections gracefully and put in their papers.

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Plea for certificates to backward classes
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 8
The Bairagi Maha Mandal, Punjab (BMM) has pleaded with the state government for issuing certificates of belonging to backward classes (BC’s) without any consideration of the income ceiling.

Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president of the mandal, said in a statement issued here today that as many as 71 castes were included in the government’s schedule of backward classes and that their population was almost 50 per cent of the total population. But the BCs were not being provided the proportionate share in government and private jobs due to the income ceiling clause.

He further urged the Union Government for a special census of the BCs in the country so that this section could be assured of reservation right down from village panchayats to the parliament. Mr Bawa said a deputation of the BMM would soon meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, in this respect.

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Brahmin sabha seeks ban on drama 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 8
The All-India Brahmin Mahasabha and Bhagwan Parshram Brahmin Sabha, Punjab, has protested against blasphemy pertaining to Hindu gods and goddess in the Haryanvi drama “Aaj ki Ramayan”, produced and directed by Kuldip Vats. The play is available on CDs.

In a press note here today, Dr B.K. Dutt, spokesperson for the All-India Brahmin Mahasabha and chief adviser of Bhagwan Parshram Brahmin Sabha, Punjab, and Mr Krishanan Rai Sharma, senior vice-president of the Brahmin sabha urged the Punjab and Haryana Governments and the Centre to ban the screening of CDs as it hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. 

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Worm flows out of tap
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 8
Mr Jagdev Singh Grewal, a resident of Block A in Model Town Extension colony here, got the shock of his life when a centipede-like crawling worm came out of the municipal tap in his house yesterday evening.

Mr Grewal said he had lodged complaints about poor quality of water supply in the area with officials of Municipal Corporation many times. There had been no response so far. He said that water pipes were leaking at several places in the colony due to poor workmanship in laying water mains and subsequent construction of road.

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Woman’s body found
Our Correspondent

Khanna, July 8
A woman of nearby village Bhamadi was found murdered at the Khanna railway track this morning.
According to the police, the woman, Parmjit Kaur, wife of Kulwant Singh of Bhamadi village, came to Khanna yesterday. GRP personnel found the body lying on the track. The arms of the victim were tied with a cloth and a broken bottle of liquor was lying near the body.

The DSP, Mr Pritam Singh, said a dog squad and fingerprint experts were pressed into service. A case under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC had been registered at the Sarhind railway police station. The body was sent to the Khanna Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

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Burn victim dies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
After struggling for life for five days, the 27-year-old daughter of a Haibowal-based cycle mechanic, who had sustained 97 per cent burns in a suicide bid, succumbed to her injuries at the DMC Hospital, here today.

The victim, Rekha, was married to a resident of Moga and was being allegedly harassed. She had attempted suicide at Moga on July 3. She was rushed to the DMCH on that day.

Doctors had already declared that she would not survive as she was in coma. She is survived by a three-and-a-half-year-old son.

Rekha, in her statement to the police, had alleged that she had attempted suicide as her life was made hell by her husband, his elder brother and his sister-in-law. She said her husband was not financially sound and the couple had fights as he used to give his money to his brother.

A case in this regard was registered by the Moga police against her husband, Satish Kumar, his elder brother, Sudarshan Kumar, and his wife, Manju, under Sections 306 and 511 of the IPC. Satish was arrested by the police.

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Robbers arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
The police today claimed to have busted a gang of highway robbers and vehicle thieves who had allegedly committed about a dozen crime of robbery, snatching and theft.

Four members of the gang have been arrested while the police is conducting raids to nab two others. The gang had stolen a number of trucks, cars and two-wheelers, besides waylaying drivers and robbing them of cash and other valuable items.

The accused had also allegedly burgled some shops and houses. DSP Industrial Area R.K. Bakshi and SHO (Division No. 6) Harjinder Singh told mediapersons that they recovered a number of stolen vehicles and goods from the possession of the accused.

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