L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Gangsters clash outside court complex
Policemen run for cover
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
Two politically-patronised groups of alleged criminals clashed using sharp-edged weapons and empty bottles outside the District Courts complex in the mini-secretariat this afternoon. The groups are known as Rana and Lalla gangs.

While an unidentified person suffered a serious head injury, several others suffered bruises. Three cars parked near the courts complex were damaged when bottles thrown by the groups fell on the vehicles.

The clash was so intense that policemen on duty preferred to save themselves than the undertrials they were accompanying. Panic-stricken litigants and advocates ran helter-skelter to save themselves from being caught between the two gangs.

The incident took place when the police brought Raman Rana, Akashdeep and Mohan Kumar- three undertrials in the Lalla murder case- to a city court. The undertrials despite being escorted by policemen were allegedly attacked by members of the Lalla group. Evidences were being recorded in the murder case today.

The assailants numbering over 30, allegedly led by one Sunil Kumar, were armed with sharp-edged weapons and empty soda bottles. The supporters of the Rana group were also present in a large number. They were also carrying weapons.

When Rana and other undertrials came out of the court building, the other group threw bottles and attacked them with sharp-edged weapons. The supporters of Rana came to their rescue as the policemen on duty remained a mute spectator and even let the undertrials free. It was free for all as both groups clashed for nearly 15 minutes. The policemen acted only when most of the members of a group had fled.

Undertrial Raman Rana stated to the police today that from among over 30 assailants he identified Sunil Kumar, Shashi, Sheeba, Sunil and Rishi.

This is a fresh outbreak of violence between the two gangs. They had clashed a couple of times in the central jail here and in the district courts complex, Jalandhar, last month also.

Lalla, a nephew of a senior BJP leader, was allegedly shot dead by Rana and others in Haibowal here in September last year. The Rana group was allegedly being patronised by notorious criminal Nirdosh Dhand, who is absconding since the murder of Lalla. Nirdosh Dhand allegedly had scores to settle with Lalla due to their business rivalry.

The gangsters were involved in illegal finance business, land grabbing, hafta collection and supari killing. They acted as musclemen of political leaders during elections and were said to be expert in rigging and booth capturing.

Rana and Lalla had been rivals since their childhood days. Despite being neighbours they often clashed with each other for supremacy in the area. While Lalla gained prominence early through political support, Rana was reportedly not involved in big rackets. He, however, was accused of indulging in anti-social activities and a number of cases of attempt to murder, rioting and beating some persons were registered against him.

Rana had allegedly been close to a number of police officials and was said to be the main informer of several IPS officers. He had come close to the notorious Nirdosh Dhand group in the city.

Former Youth Congress leader Nirdosh Dhand is another name to reckon with in the underworld. He is facing trial in over a dozen cases of varied nature. He was known to be ruthless with his rivals and had successfully cornered many of them. He was stabbed by his rivals last year. But he survived as the assailants had left him for dead.

Incidentally, Nirdosh Dhand is yet to be arrested in the Lalla murder case.



PUDA, police at loggerheads over booking colonisers
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
Even as the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) had asked the police to register a case of fraud against at least 15 colonisers for selling of 90 acres, the police is yet to register a case.

While allegations are rife in the city that police was siding with the colonisers and not taking action against them, the police claims that it had not received any complaint in this regard so far.

PUDA officials claim that they had complained to the police twice — on August 20 vide letter number-4879 for selling 65 acres of land in N.N. Estate in South city and on October 26 vide letter ( number-7277) for taking action against some colonisers for selling another 25 acres in DX-Extension Block-I, but not even a single case was registered against the accused.

Mr R.S. Brar, S.H.O, Sadar police station denied having received any complaint and said that PUDA was authorised to take action against the guilty colonisers and it did not require the help of the police. He said the authorities might have forwarded the complaint to SSP and he was yet to receive it.

Meanwhile the PUDA authorities have called a meeting of the residents of the South City on November 23 at head office in SAS Nagar in the light of complaints received against the Vikas House Building, (VHB),the developers of the South City It has also summoned Mr Yashpal Bhalla of the Vikas House Building Company Private Limited for not providing complete facilities in the colony.

The letter claims that many complaints were received against the VHB for not getting the plots registered in the names of buyers, not providing basic amenities and unauthorised selling of land worth crores.

While the company has been refuting all allegations, some plot owners in the South City had been alleging that the firm has also duped several persons of crores of rupees. The owners allege that the company sold 500-acre land while claiming to be PUDA-approved colonies and PUDA officials had been saying that the colonisers had obtained a licence for developing 150 acres only.

PUDA had marked an inquiry into the allegations last year. The complainant Capt. Joginder Singh Kullar (Retd.) Director of Small Scale Industries, Government of India, and Mr S.L. Vig, former Additional Director of Employment , Punjab, had lodged a complaint against the company in this regard. They had alleged that the VHB had sold around 350 acres of undeveloped land without obtaining any licence from PUDA.

The letter sent to Mr Bhalla by PUDA also encloses a complaint by Mr S.L. Vig who further claimed that the VHB had bypassed the provisions of the Punjab Apartments and Property Regulation Act, 1995 and used PUDA as an ‘‘instrument in their design to loot public.” He further said that the company obtained a licence for developing 150 acres of land from PUDA in 1996 but had developed 500 acres of land. Venting his ire at PUDA, Mr Vig claimed that even the authorities had failed to do anything in this regard even as they had brought the scam into their notice almost two years ago.

Mr Kullar claimed that he was being punished for being a whistle blower as he was booked in a false case under the Schedule Castes Act by the police at the behest of the accused.



Employers join fingerprinting drive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
Sensing the gravity of being ignorant about the antecedents of the workers employed in their factories and industrial units, several entrepreneurs have come forward to get their employees’ fingerprints registered in the police stations.

The police department is of the view that such a step would not only act as a deterrent but would also help them in creating a data bank of information on the movement of thousands of migrants employed in the city.

Commenting on the development, SSP Narinder Pal Singh said it was a good development since earlier appeals had evoked a lukewarm response. “It is unfortunate that the public does not understand the gravity of employing unknown people. It is only after some heinous crime is committed that people come to us but there is little that we can do since the employers have not informed the police or the address furnished turns out to be false”, he pointed out.

“It was decided that we would ask all employers, industrialists and house owners to co-operate with us in maintaining a record of their employees, workers and tenants.

Sustained efforts by the SP City-1, Mr R.K. Jaiswal, and Forensic Expert Krishan Datt were successful when industrialists like Sumesh Chadha (Radiant Toyota), Mr Joginder Kumar (General Metal Industries), S.N. Aggarwal (Lalit Synthesis), Neeraj Jain (K.K. Jain Hosiery), Sushil Kaura (Camel Knitting and Textiles) and Mr Gagan (Gagan Photostat), agreed to get their employees give their fingerprints and promised to maintain the records periodically.

Mr Datt, who is also the in charge of the Bureau of Fingerprints and Forensic Services, Ludhiana Police, said, “Following the approval of the employers listed above, fingerprints of more than 1,000 employees will be taken and our branch will help other employers to maintain the record of the employees, as is being done in several other countries”.

Moreover, this branch is all set to provide their services free of cost to the employers.

As per a conservative estimate, more than five lakh migrants are employed with hundreds of industrial and ancillary units in the city and in many cases the police has established their complicity in heinous and other crimes.

In fact, many in the police circles believe that the Manchester of the country is also a safe haven for criminals on the run from their native places where “crime is a way of life.” Incidents of servants poisoning their employers or decamping with money from the units where they have been employed are now normal occurrences in the city.



Police fails to trace kidnapped child
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
The city police has failed to find any clue in the case of alleged kidnapping of a six-year-old son of a Giaspura-based kiryana shopowner. The boy — Sanjeev Kumar — was kidnapped in May this year but the police has not been able to make any headway in the case so far.

The family of the kidnapped boy has been running from pillar to post all these months hoping to get some news about their child, but to no avail. Even the FIR in the case was registered over two months after the kidnapping and that too after senior state police officials based in Chandigarh directed the local police officials to do so.

Mr Anil Kumar Giri, father of the missing child, told Ludhiana Tribune that he had left his two sons — Sanjeev Kumar and Vishal Kumar — in the shop on May 15 as he had gone to a wholesale shop to buy some things.

However, when he returned Vishal informed him that a man wearing a cap had taken Sanjeev away forcibly. The family and area residents tried to trace the boy in the colony and adjoining areas. They also made an announcement about the missing child from some religious places.

Next morning, he received a phone call from some unknown person who demanded Rs 25,000 for the release of the boy. The kidnapper even told him that the child would be killed if he made more announcements or approached the police.

However, after that no phone call was received by him. The panic-stricken father of the child went to the Sherpur chowki to lodge a complaint, but the police allegedly told him to wait for a few days.

He claimed that he was harassed continuously as he had to make several rounds of the police station and knock at the doors of a senior official before an FIR was lodged. However, since then the case seems to have been forgotten.

The police sources, however, revealed that they had tried their best to locate the child but had not been able to get any clue so far.

Meanwhile, the All-India Social Services-Special Cell has also appealed to the city police chief Narinderpal Singh to get the child traced at the earliest.



Sanitation panels raise a stink
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, November 18
As more than 5,000 work force, including regular and contractual safai workers, fails to handle the increasing insanitary conditions in the city, the system of entrusting sanitary duty to mohalla sanitation committees (MSCs) is being questioned because the scheme has virtually become a source of easy money for elected representatives (councillors) without serving the desired purpose and providing any benefit to the people.

In the wake of the growth in population in urban areas and a ban on recruitment in local bodies for the past several years, the government had chalked out a plan to recruit safai workers on contract basis through the formation of ward-level MSCs all over the state. A sum of Rs 1,200 per month was being paid to these workers by the urban local bodies (ULBs) and another Rs 1,200 was raised from area residents by the committees concerned.

At present, the city had 303 MSCs in all four zones, employing a little more than 3,000 safai workers. As its 50 per cent share of their monthly wages, the Municipal Corporation was paying a whopping Rs 36 lakh to the committees and getting practically nothing in return.

With a few exceptions, regular sweeping was not being done in residential colonies and commercial centres, with the result that heaps of garbage could be seen almost everywhere.

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune over the past few weeks led to the startling disclosure that only 2,000 odd regular sweepers, employed by the civic body, were performing their assigned duty, while a majority of the safai workers shown to have been employed by the MSCs existed only on paper. Further, the functionaries of these committees, along with the area councillors concerned, were pocketing the massive funds being provided by the MC for the contractual safai workers.

Since the contractual safai workers were recruited and paid by the MSCs, they were not answerable to the civic body and the MC, which paid 50 per cent of their monthly salary from out of its own funds but had no supervisory control over these workers. Informed sources claimed that either the councillors themselves or their cronies were controlling the MSCs, who allegedly fudged the records to siphon off the funds, which were obviously shared with political functionaries.

The MC top brass was reported to be toying with the idea of experimenting with ‘night sweeping’ with private participation. However, the councillors and other political functionaries of the MC were said to be deadly opposed to the proposal because they would not like the goose that laid the golden egg killed.



Warm welcome to ‘relic yatra’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
The relics of Sir Chhotu Ram, which were brought from Lahore and reached here late last night, were accorded a rousing reception by workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Ajay Chautala, Rajya Sabha Member, said he was overwhelmed by the welcome accorded by the people in Punjab.

The ‘relic yatra’ which halted here for the night resumed the onward journey to Sampla today morning. It was joined by hundreds of Akali workers led by the former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The Chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, was also present on the occasion.

Talking to reporters Mr Badal and Mr Ajay Chautala regretted that the issue was being politicised. They pointed out that Sir Chhotu Ram had made great contribution towards the land reforms in Punjab. They maintained that the farmers of the united Punjab owed great deal to him as he had simplified the harsh revenue laws which were grossly against the farmers.

Mr Chautala, who personally got these relics from Lahore, said these had been properly maintained by the Nawab of Malerkotla, Nawabzada Shahzad Khan. He disclosed that most of the things used by Sir Chhotu Ram were intact, but some dairies maintained by him had been partially damaged.

He said the Haryana government was setting up a museum and a memorial in the name of Sir Chhotu Ram near his ancestral village Sampla. He disclosed that the people of the area were coming forward with various things which were used by Sir Chhotu Ram. The memorial, he said, would be set up in a time bound manner.

He denied that the INLD government was owning up Sir Chhotu Ram for political gains. “It is unfortunate that such motives are being attributed to us. He did not belong to any particular people or region as he is respected by everyone, particularly the farmers whether in Haryana, East or the West Punjab”, he observed.



Govt commends good work of MC
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 18
The Central Government has placed on record the good work done by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation during the national campaign for the issuance of birth certificates to all children up to the age of 15 years. After thoroughly assessing the work done in this regard by various urban local bodies all over the country, the government, through a letter dated November 4, had recognised the excellent performance of the corporation.

At a special function held in Chandigarh on November 14 (Children's Day) under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary, Punjab, the MC Assistant Commissioner, Mr B.K. Gupta, was given two commendation certificates and a memento.

Giving this information here today, the MC Commissioner, Mr S.K. Sharma, said that Mr Gupta was the in charge of the national campaign for issuing birth certificates to all eligible children. This project was envisaged to be completed in two phases from November 2003 to December 2003 and May 2004 to November 14, 2004. It was a matter of pride that the state-level award for excellent performance in both phases of this national campaign had been conferred upon the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, he added.

According to Mr Sharma, the corporation had issued about 1.15 lakh certificates during the campaign. The target was achieved by involving all schools in the city.



BJP to meet in Chandigarh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 18
State units of the BJP in Punjab, Himachal and Chandigarh will meet in Chandigarh on November 21 to assess the preparations for the proposed national-level demonstration in New Delhi on December 1.

The national vice-president of the party, Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, will take part in the meeting.

Giving this information, the BJP state secretary, Mr Anil Sareen, said here today that all state unit office-bearers, members of the executive committee, district observers, MLAs, MPs, district presidents and general secretaries, state presidents and general secretaries of all wings, former mayors and former chairpersons of the state boards and corporations from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh would attend the meeting.



103 complaints taken up at police-public meet
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
After inviting criticism from several quarters during the last police-public meeting, senior police officials kept a date with the public and listened to their grievances at a Shikayat Nivaran Committee meeting organised in the Focal Point area here today.

DIG Parag Jain and SSP Narinderpal Singh listened to the complaints of residents of the Focal Point area and redressed 90 per cent of the cases on the spot.

As many as 103 complaints were taken up, out of which 21 were property disputes, 41 cases of marital discord, eight dowry cases, 21 financial matters, one under the Scheduled Castes Act, one missing case and five general disputes. Out of a total of 103 complaints, 91 were solved on the spot.

While addressing the participants, the SSP said the meeting of committee was organised to help people solve their long-pending disputes and save them from the procedural delays.

The complaints falling under the jurisdiction of four police stations, Industrial area, Division Numbers 6, 7 and Shimla Puri, were taken up at the meeting.



Samiti activists to protest at Rashtrapati Bhavan
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
Activists of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Surakhsha Samiti today threatened to behead themselves in case Kanchi Shankaracharya was not released by November 21. Addressing a press conference here, the president of the samiti, Mr Sanjiv Bharadwaj, said 11 activists would march to Rashtrapati Bhavan and behead themselves. The samiti alleged that BJP had entered into a conspiracy with the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, to create communal passions in the country.



Woman booked for forging magistrate’s signatures
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
The city police has booked a woman employee with the Tehsildar (East) office here on the charges of forging signatures of the Executive Magistrate on false affidavits. The accused woman, Rajwinder Kaur, was posted as steno with the Executive Magistrate from July 2002 to January 2003. She was yet to be arrested.

The police has booked her under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 218 and 213 after an inquiry conducted by DSP Ravcharan Singh Brar indicted her in the case. The fraud was first detected by former SDM Bhawna Garg. She had conducted an internal inquiry and referred the matter to the police for further investigation.

It is being suspected that the accused woman forged signatures on hundreds of affidavits during her posting.



Reduction of surcharge on petrol, diesel sought
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry today said the custom duty on crude oil should be imposed on specific and not on ad valorem basis. “The government should first reduce all surcharges imposed on petrol and diesel and charge duties on specific basis. It should also ask the state governments to reduce sales tax to the maximum of 10 per cent,” said Mr P.D.Sharma, president of the chamber. He said when the prices of crude oil doubled, the custom duty on crude remained at 10 per cent which should have been reduced to about 5 per cent.

“In the Union Budget 2002-03, a surcharge of Rs 6 was imposed on petrol. This was done to compensate oil companies for the subsidy they gave on the LPG and kerosene. This subsidy has been reduced to one-third, but the surcharge of Rs 6 per litre still remains. To add to it, another cess of Rs 1.50 has been levied on petrol, increasing the total burden to Rs 7.50,” he said.

He said the country does not import even a litre of petrol and diesel as we have sufficient refining capacity. the government has allowed oil companies a price parity of 20 per cent by way of custom duty on petrol and diesel. “Surprisingly, oil companies are reported to be charging this 20 per cent in the price of petrol and diesel. On the other hand they are not even paying any custom duty for this,” he rued.

He said the government had given excessive liberty to the refining companies as a result of which they were enjoying hefty profit margins. “Refineries in our country are earning a margin of $ 7 to $ 8 per barrel against the international $ 0.6 to 1.32,” he said.



When toons came calling on city kids
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 18
More than 3,000 children in the city had a blast at Zee-Turner’s “Fun Day Out” with Cartoon Network and POGO’ yesterday’. “Fun Day Out” was one of the biggest fun event initiated by Zee-Turner, which will be taken to 10 cities across the country, targeting kids in the age group of 4 to 14 years.

This exclusive event was designed to bring the city’s young “toonheads” closer to their favorite channels — Cartoon Network and POGO’s iconic toon stars, such as Tom and Jerry, Dexter, Dee Dee, and Noddy. The highlights of the event was a special dance performance by the popular toon stars, including the lovable brother-sister duo of Dexter, and Dee Dee, and the adorable Noddy.

Enjoying every minute of this event, the enthusiastic, toon fans, including cable operators , got into the spirit as they participated in the various on-stage and off-stage activities. These included face painting with different POGO and Cartoon Network puzzles, bowling games and the fun ‘Shout Aloud’ competition that required kids to scream ‘POGO’ on the decibel meter, and the kids with the hihgest decibel points won. The kids also had a blast competing with each other on a larger than life boardgame having tiny TV characters.



Shelco-Eastman row intensifies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 18
The row between Eastman Industries and Shelco Bike Industries has intensified with Eastman, supported by the Engineering Export Promotion Council, labelling Shelco's step of hiring an outside agency for recovery of payment as "illegal and unethical".

Yesterday steel manufacturers had come forward in support of Shelco Bike Industries and Loha Mandi had remained closed.

Shelco had alleged that the owner of Eastman, Mr Jagdish Rai Singhal, owed them Rs 28 lakh.

The company alleged that it had hired an outside agency for the recovery of payment as Jagdish Rai was not making the payment. According to Shelco, when people from the recovery agency went to collect payment, Mr Jagdish Rai called the police and a case was registered against five persons, including two from that agency.

In a press conference held today, Mr Singhal and the Engineering Export Promotion Council alleged that the owner of Shelco owed them around Rs 50 lakh. They said Shelco's step to hire an outside agency in a business matter was entirely uncalled for.

"The dispute was only a business matter. However, they hired a recovery agency which not only issued threatening letters to Mr Singhal but also went to the extent of going to his home and harassing his family," alleged Mr Rajinder Jindal, president, Engineering Exporters Association of India.

Condemning this step, the association members said it would not set a good precedent if industrialists who have to work on credit start hiring outside agencies for the recovery of payments.


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