L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Bank manager, 2 MC clerks held for Rs 2-cr loan fraud
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 4
In a major fraud case, two clerks employed with the local Municipal Corporation, a bank Manager and six other persons have been arrested by the city police for allegedly swindling public money worth nearly Rs 2 crore by taking loans in name of 150 persons from various banks in the past five months only.

The loanees, who were mostly labourers and daily wagers, were passed on as municipal employees on the basis of fake identity cards made by the accused clerks. The loans were taken on genuine papers and even had photographs of the person seeking the loan, but with a fake name, address and forged signatures.

The case was settled with commission for each case given to a co-accused Avtar Singh, Manager of Co-operative Bank, Salem Tabri branch. His bank alone cleared over 100 such cases. The police was also verifying the record of two other banks, that had also been duped by the accused in a similar manner.

SSP Narinderpal Singh revealed here today that the amount swindled by the accused would run in several crores with the accused confessing their involvement in the criminal activity for the past two years. SP Simratpal Singh Dhindsa and SHO Haibowal, Gurpreet Singh had unearthed the scandal.

The loan taken on one pretext or the other ranged from Rs 40,000 to Rs 1 lakh.

The loan papers of the 150 loanees were attested by an XEN, O and M cell of the Municipal Corporation, with details about their monthly salary bills taken from the MC. The police was verifying whether the signatures were original or not. The SSP said they were suspecting that the signatures were forged.

Six fake loanees have also been arrested. The have been identified as — Kamal Kumar, Raju, Rakesh Kumar, Prem Pal, Anil Kumar and Satish Kumar. They used to take a commission of Rs 2,000 for a loan of Rs 40,000 and Rs 5,000 for a loan of Rs 1 lakh. The bank Manager used to take Rs 4,000 per case.

The loanees used to furnish their pictures but with a different identity. Many of those like Raju took up to seven loans under different identities. The SSP revealed that the cases were cleared as the bank Manager Avtar Singh ensured that the verification exercise remained a formality only.

The police was also verifying the records of two banks — the Bank of Punjab and Canara Bank — from where also the accused had taken loans after furnishing fake identities. The SSP said so far the police investigation had not found the involvement of any employee of these two banks and it seemed that they too were defrauded by these people only.

The MC clerks were big time gamblers and darra-satta players. They gambled at least Rs 50,000 daily. Dilip Kumar has confessed to losing a sum of over Rs 2.5 lakh in one day only. He made it up by putting a fresh application for loan again under an assumed identity. He even used to give huge tips to waiters and dined in posh hotels.

His family was the worst sufferer. His wife is reportedly giving tuitions at home to keep the kitchen fires burning while Dilip Kumar indulged in fraud, gambling and other vices.

Avtar Singh’s monthly salary is Rs 28,000. He remained silent on why he duped his organisation despite drawing a good salary. He only claimed that he was innocent and had no inkling that the cases were fake. However, the accused Dilip Kumar and others intervened claiming they were giving him commission on each case.

The DSP, Mr Simrat Pal Singh Dhindsa and SHO, Haibowal, Gurpreet Singh, said the loan papers could not be cleared without his connivance.

They said the banks or finance companies verify the antecedents and addresses of the loanees besides completing several other formalities but in this case, all norms were given a go-by.

The police has recovered a sum of Rs 2.5 lakh from the possession of the accused besides stamps and fake MC cards and some cheque books of the employees.



MC pays Rs 9 lakh for park developed on paper
Tribune News Service

The empty space where the contractor was to put up a fountain in a park in the Jamalpur area in Ludhiana
The empty space where the contractor was to put up a fountain in a park in the Jamalpur area in Ludhiana on Saturday. — Photo by Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, December 4
A park in the Jamalpur area for which the local Municipal Corporation had passed a sum of Rs 9,19,000 for the completion of works supports an old grill, incomplete footpaths as well as fountains.

Intriguingly, the contractor had allegedly claimed the money after ‘‘showing on paper’’ that he had completed the earth work, had installed fountains and iron fencing alongside the boundary wall.

Exposing the matter here today, some BJP leaders alleged bungling of funds allocated for the development of the park located on Metro Road in the Jamalpur area here today.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Satpal Gosain, a senior BJP leader, Mr Parveen Bansal, leader of Opposition in the MC and Mr Pran Nath Bhatia, former leader of Opposition, said while the authorities had passed a bill of Rs 9,19,000 in the favour of the contractor, negligible work had been carried out in the park.

Mr Bansal said the work order Number 3399 was given to M/s A.B. Constructions and the running bill for the same was passed and payment was made to the contractor on November 29. The works, including earth filling, cement concrete passages, interlock tiles on footpath and installation of fountains, were paid for.

A visit to the spot revealed that while the earth work was somewhat completed, tiles on the footpath were missing. The fountains, for which money had been claimed, were nowhere in the sight. Only some ground work had been done for the fountains.

Mr Bansal, while showing the iron fencing, said it was already put up by PUDA, which was the maintaining authority earlier. He claimed that the bills were passed for the walls and fencing also.

The leaders said they had prepared a video film of the park and were sending it to the Vigilance Bureau for further action.

The park was inaugurated by the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill in October and work in it was shown completed by the end of November.

Mr S.K. Sharma, Commissioner, MC, was not available for comments as he was stated to be out of station. Dr Jaswant Singh, Joint Commissioner said the parks did not fall under his jurisdiction. 



MC misleading rights panel, alleges PFA
Slaughter of animals in open
Kanchan Vasdev

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 4
The local chapter of the People for Animals (PFA) group has charged the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation with “misleading” it and “keeping the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) in dark” regarding the open slaughter houses case.

In a representation given in the backdrop of a report by the local Commissioner in the case, Mr S.K. Garg, former Additional District and Sessions Judge, it was stated that slaughtering was being carried out in the open, along the roadsides and in full view of women and children. The PFA has urged upon the PHRC to direct the MC to pay the cost of suit to the NGO.

“The MCL had misrepresented the facts and actual position, leading to the wastage of precious time of the commission as well as of the NGO,” the PFA office-bearers claimed in the representation. It demanded that the MC should also be directed to pay Rs 5000 that had been paid by the PFA to the local Commissioner as per the PHRC directions. It had also stated that in case the report of the Commissioner went against the MC, then the money shall be recoverable from the MC.

Mr Garg, who had been appointed by the PHRC to prepare a report in the case had upheld the allegations levelled by the PFA and had stated that slaughtering was being done in the open and the only slaughter house of MC was lying unoperational. The next date of hearing of the case is December 19.

Although mini slaughter houses were continuing to sell the meat products openly in every nook and corner of the city, the MC had been claiming to the PHRC that these had been closed after the directive. Interestingly, not even a single butchery was closed after the directive and all were functioning normally.

The PFA had been crying hoarse over the “false” claims of the MC and had claimed that the municipal corporation authorities had not taken any action against the roadside butcheries even as the Commission had directed them to do so on November 7 last year.

The commission, exercising powers under Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, had appointed the local Commissioner, who was asked to inspect the places as may be pointed out to him by the PFA from time to time and would submit a report to the PHRC “whether open butcheries are being run at different places in the city or not?”

Stating that the open slaughter of animals, birds and fish was not only a source of nuisance but also hurt the sentiments of the people, especially schoolgoing children and women, the PFA had been saying that it posed a health risk to the citizens too as these slaughterhouses were breeding grounds for flies and rodents and help in increasing stray dog population and spread of diseases like cholera, gastroenteritis, tuberculosis and rabies too.

Most of the animals are sick and are under heavy stress and are kept in unhygienic conditions. So the meat obtained from these unhealthy animals, birds and fishes is also not fit for human consumption.

The PFA had, in its complaint to the PHRC, stated that the MC had failed to check illegal slaughter houses in the city.



Precarious pole poses threat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 4
Four days ago, a truck had rammed into an electricity pole in the Model Town area near Krishna Mandir and had broken its base. Since then the pole is standing precariously and the wires hanging from it pose a threat to residents nearby. But the authorities of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) prefer to sleep over the problem.

The very fact that the pole stands in front of a school makes people more panicky. They say with a small blow the pole will fall on the ground along with the wires, which can result in a major tragedy as commuters frequent this area. Moreover, schoolchildren also pass through this road.

While the officials of the PSEB stay away, residents have themselves supported the pole with some stones so that it does not fall easily. Mr Atamjit Singh, an area resident, says that they have made several complaints to the PSEB for the past four days, but to no avail.

The residents had lodged a complaint with the PSEB office over the phone but the attendant said that they could not take up such a problem. They were directed to meet the Junior Engineer JE of the area.

Mr Atamjit Singh then went to see the JE, who was said to be on leave. He went to the complaints office where he was told that only a power failure was dealt with urgently. Otherwise such problems were in the jurisdiction of the Duty Officer. He went to the Duty Officer, who told him that he was not authorised to register any such complaint.

“After wasting three hours I came back. Till date nobody has attended to the problem. We fear that if wind starts blowing, the pole would fall in the centre of the road. People can be electrocuted too. Moreover, many schoolchildren can become victims,” Mr Atamjit Singh says.

He says it is sad that though the PSEB knows there is a problem, it is being taken very lightly. He adds that a truck had rammed into the pole around 8 am four days ago when some schoolchildren were entering the school. There was a blast and sparks were also witnessed. Later some wires got loose and fell on the ground. They are still hanging in the air. 



Construction of Pohir-Lohatbaddi road approved
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 4
The PWD has approved the construction of the 17-km stretch of metalled road from Pohir to Lohatbaddi, a link road joining Ludhiana-Malerkotla road with the Raikot-Malerkotla road.The chances of the construction of the Ludhiana-Malerkotla stretch were, however, bleak.

Dr Gurdev Singh Gill, Chairman of the Village Life Improvement Foundation Canada, said Mr R.S. Sidhu, Secretary, PWD, had given an assurance yesterday that the construction of the said road would start by the end of January 2005. He, however, declined the demand of the construction of Ludhaina-Malerkotla road as the funds were not available immediately.

Commenting on the present state of roads in the state Dr Gill said the delay in the restructuring process was reportedly resulting due to the difference of opinion between bureaucrats and politicians as the former considered the concept of charging toll tax to be the only solution for the upkeep of roads whereas the politicians were of a different view." Every MLA wanted that the roads falling under their jurisdiction should not be covered under the new scheme according to which the toll tax would be charged from the vehicle owners,” viewed Dr Gill.

Dr Gurjit Singh, another delegate said the work undertaken by the said foundation at Brahampur village was about to conclude. The foundation had adopted the village for providing basic amenities to the residents and had approved funds worth Rs 1 crore for the purpose. The residents had felt a need for constructing a road that joined the village with surrounding towns of Ahmedgarh, Raikot and Malerkotla and their demand had been put before the authorities.



At the Crossroads
The link between the two Punjabs

THE World Punjabi Conference held at Punjabi University, Patiala, from December 1 to 3 has left indelible impressions on the minds of participants from both sides. Punjabi as the common language creates the atmosphere of bonhomie among the writers using Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts. It is, however, the spoken word that touches the chords of hearts that vibrate for a long time to come. It seems as if fellow-feeling will in the long run help remove the bitterness of the past events and create a bridge of understanding over the chasm of misgivings.

The visit to the university campus at Patiala on the last day of the conference was rewarding in many ways. I met there Fakhar Zaman who has been the moving spirit behind World Punjabi Conferences which have been held in India as well as Pakistan during the past decade. His role is that of benign presence that holds together the lovers of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

In this conference the well-known short-story writer and novelist Afzal Ahsan Randhawa met me with open arms as usual. He had come to Punjabi Bhavan, Ludhiana, some months ago and talked at length about his literary odyssey. Meeting Hameed Akhtar (poet, thinker and journalist) was like calling back the days of the past. He was born and brought up at a village in Ludhiana. He came to the city for his school education and met Sahir Ludhianvi, Ajaib Chitarkar and Krishan Adeeb during the good old pre-Partition days.

Besides Ahmad Saleem, Sabte-Hasan Rizvi, Sar Faraz Sayyed, Khushi Mohammed Nisar and Azhar Mahmood, there were a large number of women poets and writers. There is a misconception in this part of the Land of Five Rivers that in West Punjab girls are not forthcoming in the fields of education, sports and civil services. I was pleasantly surprised to meet a Punjabi poetess who is an SSP in Lahore. Someone introduced her to me as the Kiran Bedi of Pakistan. Then I met Neelam Bashir (short-story writer), Parveen (Editor of the journal Mahe-Nau), Bushra Aijaz (poetess) and Seema Feroze (columnist). All of them were abreast with the changing times in the world of poetry, fiction and journalism. There was no sign in them of diffidence, reticence or self-consciousness. They held free and frank discussions with us on literary and cultural topics.

Well-known novelist Bushra Rahman attended the conference with aplomb as is her wont. She is always eager to convey her thoughts in a forthright manner. She revealed in her candid style that she is better known in India than in Pakistan. The reason being, her Urdu novels are published here, after translation, in Hindi and Punjabi dailies here regularly. She has acquired over the years a large appreciative readership in India. She is a poet also and has participated, many a time, in mushairas held in Ludhiana in the memory of Sahir Ludhianvi. The Chief Minister of West Punjab, Chowdhary Parvez Ilahi, lauded her achievements during his valedictory speech at the conference.

What surprised the litterateurs of both Punjabs was a sudden revelation made by Bushra in a casual manner. There was an atmosphere of warm-hearted togetherness during the dinner party on December 3, 2004, hosted by Capt Amarinder Singh at his residence Moti Bagh, Patiala. The Chief Ministers of both Punjabs, along with the high-ups, were mixing freely with the invited persons on the lawns of the palace. When the entourage came near Bushra who was sitting with admirers of her writings at a table, she stood up and introduced Dr Kewal Dhir as her brother. There was a hushed silence for sometime and then Mr Ilahi asked, “So, you have a brother in India also.”

“Of course, and in this way I have my ‘peka ghar (parental home) in Ludhiana,” she responded.

That was the spirit that had been generated by this World Punjabi Conference.

N. S. Tasneem



Liquor smuggler nabbed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 4
The Sunder Nagar police post has succeeded in intercepting the movement of a liquor smugglers gang that was transporting 110 cases of liquor from Chandigarh to Jalandhar via this city.

One member of the gang, Jassi Puri, has been arrested after a hot chase by ASI Harbans Singh, in charge of the Sunder Nagar police post and his team at the Jalandhar by-pass near Kirpal Nagar late last night.

The accused was trying to flee after abandoning a truck containing the booty. Later he revealed to the police that the consignment was meant for distribution in Jalandhar.

The rates of various liquor brands were cheaper in Chandigarh in comparison to the other places in Punjab. The liquor smugglers were mostly targeting the Ludhiana market, but have now gained confidence to supply the smuggled goods to Jalandhar and even Amritsar.

SP, City-II, Pritam Singh and DSP Satvir Singh Atwal said in a press note that the recovered liquor brands like Director’s Special and Every Day Prestige Whisky were sold at higher rates. They said the police had launched a special drive against the smugglers.



DMCH doctor’s bag snatched
Our Correspondents

Ludhiana, December 4
Two motorcycle-borne miscreants snatched a hand bag of a DMCH doctor, Dr Monika, last night while she was going in a rickshaw to the market. The Division No. 8 police has registered a case under Section 356 of the IPC on the statement of the doctor.

Dr Monika stated to the police that when her rickshaw reached Tagore Nagar, the miscreants, who were riding a motorcycle without a registration number, snatched her hand bag and sped away. The bag contained a mobile phone, two ATM cards, some important documents and Rs 2,365. However, no arrest has been made so far.

Fraud alleged: The Sarabha Nagar police yesterday registered a case under Sections 420, 465, 406, 467, 468 and 120-B of the IPC on the statement of Ms Sonia Dhillon, who lives in Defence Colony at Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, against Surjit Singh, Saranjit Kaur, alias Loveleen Kaur, alias Lovely, who live in Vikas Nagar on the Pakhowal road.

The complainant had stated that he had purchased a shop in Vikas Nagar from the accused and made a payment of Rs 6.5 lakh. But the accused did not get the shop transferred in his name nor returned his money. When he pestered them for a refund, the accused gave him a cheque which was also not honoured by the bank. No arrest has been made so far.

Dowry case: On the statement of Ms Pinky, a resident of Rajjowal village, the Sadar police yesterday registered a case under Sections 406 and 498-A of the IPC against her husband, Harjinder Kumar, father-in-law, Seetal Ram, mother-in-law, Bango, and Rano who live in Thakat village near Goraya.

The woman had stated that she was married in January, 2003, and the accused had been harassing her physically and mentally and demanding more dowry. No arrest has been made so far.

Hit-and-run case: The Salem Tabri police yesterday registered a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC on the statement of Mr Jatinder Kumar, a resident of Raikot now living in Varinder Nagar at Bhaura village, against the driver of a truck (PAT-7119) who hit a man in front of a petrol station near the Jalandhar bypass on Thursday and sped away. The victim died on the spot, added the complainant. No arrest has been made so far.

Cases of theft: On the statement of Mr Jatinder Singh, a resident of Satguru Nagar, the Civil Lines police yesterday registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC against unknown person(s) who stole his Maruti car from outside Arora Neuro Centre on Tuesday night.

The Jodhewal police yesterday registered a case under Section 379 of the IPC on the statement of Mr Shamsher Singh, who lives in Simranjit Singh Nagar, against Nippy Kumar and Mohan, who live in Karamsar Colony. The complainant had stated that the accused had stolen some iron goods from outside his house on November 29. No arrest has been made so far.

One held: On the statement of PCR constable Jagdish Kumar, the Civil Lines police yesterday registered a case under Sections 353 and 186 of the IPC against Naresh Kumar, who lives in Sham Nagar.

The police said today that the accused had scuffled with the complainant while he was on duty in Sham Nagar. The accused had thus interrupted in the discharge of his duty, added the police. The accused was arrested on the spot, added the police.

Pistol seized: The Haibowal police yesterday arrested Mohammad Anwar, a migrant from Bihar living along the Dhuri Lines, and booked him under the Arms Act. The police said today that a .12 bore-country made pistol and two live cartridges were seized from his possession.

3 held with knives: The Salem Tabri police yesterday arrested three persons and booked them separately under the Arms Act for carrying flick knives.

The arrested persons have been identified as Nandan Tiwari, a migrant from UP now living in Pritam Singh da vehra, Ashok Kumar, a migrant from Hardoi in UP living in a slum near Qadian village, and Vijay Kumar, who lives in Jassian Colony at Haibowal Kalan.

Charas seized:
Ram Bux Rara of Shastrinagar Jagraon was arrested by the local police from Agwar Ladhai and 150 gm of charas was seized from his possession. The police has registered a case under Sections 21, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Electric wires stolen: The Sidhwanbet police, on a complaint of an Assistant Engineer of the PSEB, has registered a case under Section 379, IPC, for the theft of electricity wires worth Rs 16,000 from Malsihan Bajan.

Girl abducted: A young girl of Burj Littan is alleged to have been abducted by Arshdip Singh of Lohat Baddi and three others. The Sudhar police on the complaint of Manjit Singh, father of the abducted girl, has registered a case under Section 366 and 34, IPC.



Industrialists threaten stir against power cuts
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 4
The local Association of Industrialists has threatened to launch an agitation in protest against frequent power cuts and the alleged indifferent attitude of some officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

This decision was taken at a meeting of the association chaired by Mr Faruq Chauhan, Managing Director, Subhan Paper Mills Pvt Ltd, here today. The meeting was convened to discuss the course of action for checking the alleged harassment of industrialists.

Mr Sanjiv Singla, a spokesperson for the association, said the power supply to around 24 industries had been erratic allegedly due to the non-cooperative attitude of some PSEB officials at the local level. Besides long scheduled cuts in the state, the local officials had been disrupting the power supply on one pretext or the other.

Mr Naib Singh Brar, Superintending Engineer, PSEB, commented that he had received a complaint from the industrialists in this regard but the cuts were unavoidable and the PSEB was doing its best to rectify the situation.

The industrialists said that though the production of all units was being affected adversely, the process units were worst hit. These units suffered massive losses as boilers required a lot of time and energy to heat up after frequent power breakdowns.

The status of the feeder was also discussed at the meeting as the same had not been declared an industrial feeder in the records of the board. Though the supply to an industrial feeder should not be interrupted frequently, these consumers had to bear power cut in all cases, whether it was a cut for rural, urban or industrial areas.

Mr Singla further said that the meeting had resolved to launch an agitation in case their grievances were not addressed. The industrialists demanded an inquiry into the unwanted and unscheduled cuts imposed in the recent past.

Mr Harvinder Singh, Mr Akash Jain, Mr Rajesh Singla and Mr Dhand also aired their views.



ESPN-Star Sports discontinue services to Win Cable
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, December 4
The sports enthusiasts in parts of Ludhiana and Jalandhar are likely to miss exciting sports action as the ESPN and Star Sports channels went off the air on the Hathway (Win) cable network.

According to a press note issued by Mr Sricharan Iyengar, vice-president, Sales and Marketing, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd today, the Hathway has not paid the routine monthly subscription fees due to the ESPN since September this year and furthermore, the annual service agreement between them expired on November 30.

Mr Iyengar said the viewers might end up missing the India-Bangladesh cricket series, Pakistan-Australia series, the ongoing English Premier League and Spanish League Football matches and other sporting action.



Biz Clips 
VAT: SSI units ‘not’ consulted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 4
The Ludhiana Motor Parts Manufacturers Association has flayed the statement of the Punjab Finance Minister wherein he has stated that with the implementation of VAT system in the state, the industries will become free from 'inspector raj'.

Mr G.S. Kahlon and Mr Charan Singh Kohli, president and general secretary of the unit, respectively, said it was not possible to free them from the clutches of inspectors of various departments. As stated by the Secretary, Excise and Taxation, VAT in Punjab was the substitute only for general sales tax. No other operating taxes would be merged in it. When other taxes would remain in force, how was it possible to free them from inspectors, they questioned.

Further, the state government has taken into confidence the CII and the PHD Chamber, which are the representative bodies of big industrial houses. Intriguingly, the SSI industrial organisations have not been consulted.

It would have been better if the draft of VAT system was sent to a high-powered committee of the Central Finance Commission for necessary approval without discussing it with them. This despite the fact that the state government had agreed that without consulting the SSI, the system would not be implemented.

To send it to the Centre without their consent was unjustified and against the wishes of small industries, they pointed out.

Mr Kahlon said to curb the tax evasion, the move of the Central Government to start a pilot project under one nation tax network i.e. information technology system for the transition to VAT in 13 states at the initial stage on trial basis for seven months, is a welcome step.

In the event of its success, it will continue for five years and thereafter the states will handle it independently. No doubt it is being started to overcome the administrative deficiencies under the present system, but it will also benefit the entrepreneurs/ traders.

Selected: The Small Industries Development Organisation, under the Ministry of Small Scale Industries, has selected 21 clusters under the first phase of a programme in the country and the sewing machine and its components cluster at Ludhiana is one of them.

Mr S.S. Bedi, Cluster Development Executive, said under this programme, entreprenuers would visit the international textile machinery exhibition being held in Mumbai.

Loan mela: The two-day home loan mela organised by the Indian Bank, Bhoura Branch, concluded here today. Officials of the bank said 45 applications were received out of which 11 loan applications, totalling Rs 42 lakh, were sanctioned on the spot.

Mr G.D. Badhan, branch manager, said they highlighted the various schemes of the bank and requested the public to benefit by availing the loans under these diverse schemes.

He further said the branch has sanctioned loans amounting to Rs 2 crore during the current financial year under various schemes of the bank.


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