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NRI Sabha chief’s son held for cheating
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur Dakha, August 18
In one of the major foreign exchange frauds concerning NRIs, the Mullanpur Dakha police today arrested Raja Deol, son of Mr Pritam Singh Deol, President, Punjab NRI Sabha, for allegedly misappropriating lakhs of rupees of the NRIs through their money exchange firm.

The police has also booked his Canada-based brother, Devinder Singh Deol, for cheating several NRIs and their relatives based in the region. They were jointly running a foreign exchange firm in both countries and used to transfer the money of the NRIs to their relatives here and vice versa. However, they were allegedly siphoning off some of the amount. In some cases they had even kept most of the amount with themselves.

Though the police has booked the duo for cheating, they can also face charges of indulging in hawala transactions. The police initiated action against the Deol family after several months of investigation. Six complainants had filed affidavits against the accused but police sources said there would be many more such victims.

Mr Rajiv Ahir, SSP, Jagraon, said the police had got secret information against the accused and then found the allegations to be true during investigations. The accused was remanded in one-day police custody by a Duty Magistrate in Ludhiana this evening.

Ironically, the Deols had been running the NRI Sabha claiming to champion the cause of the NRIs. The sabha was formed to sort out the problems of the NRIs in Punjab. The family owns a palatial house and Deol motors near Mullanpur Dakha. It has organised many seminars for the welfare of the NRIs and their relatives.

A police officer associated with the case said they too were shocked at the information. ‘‘We had never thought that some family members were actually cheating the NRIs.’’

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Accident victim’s parents seek justice
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
The poor parents of a five-year-old girl, undergoing treatment in CMC Hospital for over a month after suffering serious injuries when a Mahindra jeep ran over her legs, are virtually begging justice from the city police.

While the CMC Hospital authorities are demanding the payment of over Rs 1 lakh bill for the treatment of the girl, Meenu, to discharge her from the hospital, the police is not taking any action against the driver of the vehicle which hit the girl. The plea of her parents, Satish Kumar and Sushma Devi, both labourers, to get some compensation from the driver has also been turned down.

The aggrieved family members and relatives were so agitated today that they were all set to bring the injured girl to the police headquarters at Mini Secretariat today in an ambulance. They had got clearance from some junior doctors too but the CMC authorities stopped the move at the last moment as it could have been harmful for the patient.

The family's bid to meet an officer of the area concerned also failed today as the police officers were busy in a meeting. The family has now decided to approach the Punjab State Human Rights Commission for the redressal of their grievance.

On June 14, the girl was playing outside her house in Bhagwan Nagar when a Mahindra jeep ran over her legs. The driver of the jeep tried to drive away from the spot but was caught a few metres away by a crowd that had gathered there. The driver was handed over to the Division No 6 police and the girl rushed to Civil Hospital. She was later shifted to the CMC as her legs had suffered multiple fractures.

The victim's father Satish Kumar said the police allegedly sided with the driver and he was let off. Sources in the police station, however, claimed that a compromise was reached between the two parties and over Rs 20,000 was paid to the victim’s family.

Satish Kumar said the medical bill of the girl kept on increasing and now they had to pay more than Rs 1 lakh to the CMC authorities. He said the hospital authorities were cooperating beyond their means but the driver was neither being booked by the police nor even traced.

Police sources said the police was trying to trace the driver.

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Attempt to ‘bail out’ accused in multicrore scam
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
Mr Sukhwinder Singh, president, Punjab Health Department Subordinate Offices Clerical Association, who is the main complainant in the multi-crore medical scam which rocked Ludhiana about six years ago, has alleged that the government was trying to shield the accused and bail them out.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh told The Tribune here today that although a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by him was pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the government had taken permission for another police inquiry into the case. He alleged that the government was going all out to shield one of the accused, Dr Harcharan Singh, who is related to a former minister and a senior Congress leader.

The association president revealed that the inquiry had deliberately been marked to the Superintendent of Police (Traffic), Mr Gurdial Singh, who is also related to the minister. He asked: "What can you expect from this inquiry when both the accused and the inquiry officer are closely related to each other?". He demanded that the inquiry, even if required, must be transferred from Mr Gurdial Singh, as fairplay and natural justice demanded it.

The multi-crore medical scam was detected in 1998-99 and an FIR was registered in the Kotwali Police Station on May 4, 1999. The FIR was initially registered against seven persons. Later some more names were included in it after the investigations. While the association has been claiming that the amount involved in the scam ran into more than Rs 20 crore, so far the inquiry has established only about Rs 2 crore.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh expressed surprise over the slow pace of the case. He said even after five years charges had not been framed. Some of the accused have already retired with retirement benefits. Some of them had been declared proclaimed offenders. In order to ensure that the case did not die its own death, Mr Singh said he had filed a PIL in the high court.

While the SP Traffic, Mr Gurdial Singh, was not available for comments, a senior police officer, however, confirmed that he (Mr Gurdial Singh) had been entrusted with the inquiry into the matter. But, he added, the inquiry might have been marked to him as a matter of routine. He also said that he had no information whether the accused and the inquiry officer were related or not as alleged by the accused. 

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13-year-old crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
A 13-year-old student was crushed to death near the local Circuit House after he was run over by a hospital bus this afternoon.

Prabhdeep Singh, a Class VIII student of Government Senior Secondary Model School, was going home on a bicycle after school when the accident occurred.

A resident of Dugri area, Prabhdeep was run over by a bus carrying staff members of a local hospital. The boy was taken to hospital where he was declared brought dead.

The police has registered a case against the bus driver, who fled from the spot. The body has been sent to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

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Eve-teasing leads to labourer's death
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 18
The Dehlon police has booked three persons under Section 304 of the IPC for allegedly causing the death of a migrant labourer. The deceased lost his life after he allegedly teased the daughter of his employer.

According to the FIR registered on the statement of Mr Harbhal Singh of Mukandpur village in Ludhiana district, Raju was allegedly beaten to death by Mr Bhag Singh, his daughter Gurdeep Kaur, alias Deepi (both residents of the same village) and Mr Uttam Singh of Balli Salra village of Guwahati district in Assam.

The complainant had reportedly seen the three beating the deceased in the fields situated on the outskirts of the village. Raju breathed his last at Civil Hospital, Dehlon, where he was brought by passers-by. He had been employed at the farms of Mr Bhag Singh for around 18 months. The police has registered a case but no arrest has yet been made.

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Medical college aspirants cry foul
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 18
Aspirants for admission to Government Medical Colleges in Punjab on the basis of the PMT are crying foul over the first counselling held by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences at Faridkot on Monday.

Some of them said contrary to the prospectus of the university for admission to MBBS, BDS and other medical courses, the calculation of 40 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes, backward classes and several other categories was being worked out on a total number of seats rather than the government quota merit after a last minute decision. As a result, the open category seats in the three medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot stood reduced by 32 seats.

The three government medical colleges put together have 350 seats for the MBBS course. Out of these seats, 15 per cent (total 52) seats were reserved for the CBSE quota and another 30 seats for NRIs, leaving 268 seats. If 40 per cent reservation to different categories was allowed on the government quota seats, there should be 161 seats available to candidates from the open categories.

Mr Subhash Goel, father of one of the candidates who attended the counselling, said during the counselling session, the university authorities, however, announced that reservation was to be calculated on a total number of available seats and consequently offered only 129 seats to the open category candidates. He said logically the reservation to different categories should have been offered only on government quota seats and not on those seats which had already been earmarked for NRIs and CBSE merit. Terming the decision as dubious, he said the Department of Medical Education and Research should reconsider its decision and restart the admission process as per the provisions of the prospectus.

The Secretary, Medical Education and Research ,Mr Satish Chandra, said 40 per cent reservation to Scheduled Castes and other categories had been given on the total number of seats in the government medical colleges and the decision was based on a ruling by the Supreme Court in this regard. He claimed that nowhere in the prospectus of the university had it been stated that reservation would be calculated on government quota seats. "At the time of counselling, the university authorities had sought a clarification on this point which was given to them. There is no question of being unfair to anybody," he maintained.

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Diversion of water to Haryana to hit Punjab’s hydel projects
Amarjit Thind and Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, August 18
The diversion of additional water to Haryana through the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal will not only affect lakhs of farmers in the Malwa belt but will put a question mark on the future of 13 mini hydel projects in the state.

While the abrogation of the river waters accords has been welcomed by the people, any decrease in the water availability would result in the closure of the projects since the authorities have to maintain a certain level of water flow for generation power round the clock. That is the reason why such units have been installed on the canals which flow perennially. Understandably, the employees at these plants, too, are worried about their future. Some of the units are being operated and maintained by the Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) and the PSEB.

Other than farmers, Congressmen, too, are sore that the dream project of the late Beant Singh will suffer on this account. They claim that Beant Singh had dedicated this project with much fanfare to the prosperity of the people of the state.

Prior to his assassination, Beant Singh had dedicated around 12 microhydel plants to the prosperity of the people and the foundation stone of one such project was laid at the Khattra bridge. Though the construction work was stopped for some time during the Akali regime, the project was completed with the efforts of local political leaders, they pointed out.

Mr Baldev Singh, general secretary, Zamhoori Kisan Union Sabha, said at present micro hydel plants situated at Abohar, Bathinda, Kotla and Ghaggar branches of Sirhind canal were producing electricity. The projects are : Chubki (1.5MW), Narangwal (1MW), Dalla (1.3MW), and Tuggal (1MW) situated at the Abohar branch, while Buani (1MW), Khattra (1MW), Jagera (1MW), Kanganwal (1.3 MW) at Bathinda and Dolowal (1.5MW), Suller (1.4 MW), Banbhaura (1.3MW), Babanpur (1.3MW) at Kotla branch and Nidampur was constructed at Ghaggar branch of Sirhind canal.

Sources at the Jagera unit said with water available at the levels these plants were able to function for 11 months a year. Employees apprehended that in the eventuality of water being diverted to Haryana, the capacity at Abohar and Bathinda branches would be reduced from 2,700 cusecs to 2400 cusecs, respectively, resulting in the closure of the plants. The generation of power, too, will come to a standstill, they added, besides rendering them jobless.

The closure of the microhydel projects would also mean that the PSEB would suffer more losses as hydel generated power was cheaper than thermal power. A unit of the former costs Rs 3.16 against Rs 5.50 per unit being purchased from thermal plants. Being environmentally friendly, hydel plants require less maintenance, they pointed out.

The people also feel that the government should set up more mini hydel projects besides exploring means to generate power from non-conventional sources.

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De-focus to bust stress
Renu Manish Sinha

IN today’s fast-paced lifestyle, one thing which everyone has in common is stress. Even little kids are affected by this modern-day disease.

Harried parents of today’s super brats, the young IT professional, call centre executives, students, working mothers, all lead stressful lives, the price for which is diseases like hypertension, insomnia, and heart problems.

Since stress is omnipresent in our lives, whether in the form of minor situations or major events, taking time out for yourself is very important, says Chandigarh-based clinical psychologist, Dr Monica Singh.

Taking a short break can help you recharge your batteries, providing you with enough energy to cope with. Be it morning, evening or office hours, taking a break is a powerful stress-buster.

This ‘me only’ time is necessary to freshen up your mind even if the break is just for 15 minutes.

Experts suggests various ways to beat the stress blues. Spending 15-20 minutes a day doing something you like, especially if it is departure from the daily dreary routine, can be really refreshing.

Doing something different during the break can help in breaking the monotony.

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Readers’ Write
Give jobs on merit

THERE is talk of reservation in the private sector these days. Half of the new Central Government jobs are already in the reserved category. Under the Constitution jobs were to be reserved for a short period only. But even after 50 years, reservation has not only persisted but its scope is also being widened. In this era of globalisation when the private sector faces tough competition,reservation will prevent it from choosing the best employees available in the country. Therefore, giving jobs on considerations other than merit should be discouraged. Let us encourage merit only.

Anil Sharma, Ludhiana

Mangoes

THE mango is a rare gift of God to mankind. It is liked by almost all persons, irrespective of age, because it is delicious and easy to eat.

India has a large number of mango varieties. Legend has it that there was a discussion between two friends, an Afghan and an Indian, about different fruits available in their countries. The Afghan named the fruits of his country one by one. However, the Indian went on mentioning the mango. The Afghan asked in exasperation : "Doesn’t India have any other fruit?" The Indian replied that he had not been able to name even a fraction of the various varieties of mangoes available in his country, and would talk about the other fruits later.

There was a time when the Pathankot and Hoshiarpur areas comprised the mango bowl of Punjab. However, most mango groves have now disappeared with trees being felled and colonies set up to accommodate the ever-increasing population.

Now a large quantity of good quality mangoes is being exported to Gulf and other countries. This has pushed up prices in the domestic market and the fruit is now beyond the reach of the common man.

S.L. Katyal, Ludhiana

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Congress ignoring PM, says BJP
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, August 18
Mr Ram Niwas Jain, president of the Mandal Amloh unit of the BJP, has said in a press note that the people of India and opposition alliance NDA have given full respect to the new Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh. But it seems that Congressmen themselves are not giving the Prime Minister due respect.

He said Congress President Sonia Gandhi had announced relief money on behalf of the government at various occasions. These announcements were not only unconstitutional but also showed disrespect to Dr Manmohan Singh.

Mr Jain said advertisements issued by the Punjab Government and different state corporations included the photo of Ms Gandhi, which is against the rules and regulations and they did not bother to publish the photo of the Prime Minister.

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No-trust move against MC President
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, August 18
Seventeen councillors of the Municipal Council here want to move a no-confidence motion against the council President. They have asked the Executive Officer of the council and the Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana to order a meeting where they will move the motion. There is only one councillor, besides the president who is not supporting the move.

These seventeen alleged that the council president, Mr Devinder Kathuria, did not undertake any development works for residents of Jagraon. Due to this the condition of city was worsening. They cited this as the reason behind the move. The councillor who is not supporting the move is Mr Inder Raj. 

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Pensioners decry bank apathy
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 18
More than two months have elapsed since the Punjab Finance Department issued DA/DR merger notifications and had asked banks to merge 50 per cent dearness relief with basic pension w.e.f. April 1, 2004, besides paying the arrears in cash to pensioners. However, most banks are yet to merge the dearness relief. This has caused resentment among pensioners.

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Special package sought for traders
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 18
The Hosiery and Knit Association has called upon the state government to announce a special relief package for traders and businessmen in the state in the wake of recessionary trends.

Addressing a meeting here today, Mr Rakesh Sarin of the association, while resolving to fight the anti-trade and ‘’arbitrary’’ policies of the government, asked the traders to launch an agitation against the alleged ‘’inspector raj’’ of the Excise and Taxation Department and other government officials.

He hailed the Union Government for exempting the hosiery industry from the purview of central excise and urged the state government to follow suit. He said the government could make a beginning by simplifying the sales tax structure and rationalising tax.

He said the governments of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal were wooing trade and industry through attractive packages and incentives.

The Punjab Government must come out with a comprehensive relief to the business community, failing which massive migration could take place and cause irreparable damage to the state economy, he said.

Among others present were Mr Pankaj Jain, Mr Gurcharan Sehgal, Mr Gulshan Dua, Mr Om Parkash Arora, Mr Raj Kumar Bansal and Mr Manmohan Singh.

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IOC holds LPG safety clinic
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 18
The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) today organised an LPG safety clinic at the premises of Garg Gas Service to educate the consumers about safety and conservation aspects of cooking gas.

Speaking on the occasion, the IOC sales officer, Mr Nabh Srivastava, said the gas stove should always be kept at a higher level from the gas cylinder and the cylinder should remain in an upright position. Faulty pressure regulators should never be repaired and ought to be replaced. Consumers should keep a close watch on the condition of the rubber tube and it should be replaced every two years with an ISI-mark good quality tube.

Mr Srivastava while emphasising the need to conserve LPG, stressed that flat bottomed vessels with minimum amount of water should be used for cooking and pressure cooker should be preferred instead of cooking in open vessels. He said in the interest of safety, kitchens should be well ventilated and refrigerators should also be kept outside kitchens.

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Goods transporters oppose service tax
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
The Punjab State Goods Transport Association has opposed the imposition of service tax on goods transporters. The association has decided to join the nationwide strike being observed on August 21 in protest against the move.

The association observed that the service tax on goods transporters was discriminatory. It pointed out that in case the service tax was imposed on them alone, it would divert most of the goods' transportation via rail, which would spell doom for the goods transporters.

Association members said a substantial share of goods transport business depended on a deferred payment basis. Payments were delayed by the person availing the service from a month to six months, but transporters would have to deposit the service tax every month.

The association said numerous branches of transporters would have to be registered as separate entities. This, it said, would involve a huge cost and work. It said about 90 per cent of the entire commercial goods movement in the country was owned by small self-employed entrepreneurs. It claimed that most of them were illiterate and would not be able to maintain the accounts needed for depositing the tax.

The association has appealed the Union Finance Minister to withdraw the provision of service tax on them so that their business is not ruined.

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