L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Illegal telephone exchange unearthed
Revenue loss of Rs 50 lakh estimated
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

The accused, Gurmeet Singh, arrested by the Ludhiana police in the illegal telephone exchange case
The accused, Gurmeet Singh, arrested by the Ludhiana police in the illegal telephone exchange case.— Photo by Sayeed Ahmed 

Ludhiana, December 28
The city police today unearthed an illegal telephone exchange in a rented office in Feroze Gandhi Market here that was transmitting international calls through a local improvised exchange using telephone lines of Connect company.

Gurmeet Singh of Amritsar has been caught while the main accused, Vipul Upadhaya of Faridabad, is absconding. The police claimed that the operators of the illegal exchange were estimated to have caused a revenue loss of over Rs 50 lakh in six months.

Apart from the loss of revenue, the police was concerned at the threat to national security. The records of the calls made through the exchange were being verified to ascertain if the national security was compromised.

The accused had allegedly taken the phone connection on fake documents. The role of some employees of the Connect Telephony was also being investigated. The police was foxed as how the company gave connections on documents which had no proper details about the owner, his antecedents or residence proof.

The illegal exchange shifted international calls through local numbers. Though the call was international only local numbers were displayed on the phone screen. This meant that the revenue share of different government departments was pocketed by the accused.

The Central Vigilance Wing of the Telecom Department, New Delhi, which monitors all telephone calls, had alerted the Ludhiana police that 20 Connect numbers remained busy unusually. The police investigated the matter and exposed the illegal activity.

SP, Detective, Gurpreet Singh and Inspector Navreet Singh claimed that the accused had taken the phone connections of Connect for SCO 138 on the first floor of Waheguru Dhaba. However, the exchange was being operated from SCO 136, which was some 500 m away. The accused had used a thick cable to shift the phone lines. However, this was probably not known to the Connect company.

The police is investigating the role of Connect officials as Vipul Upadhaya had shown SCO 138 as his residence. Further, the accused had submitted a forged voter card which did not exist in the records.

The accused have been booked under Sections 120-B and 420 of the IPC and Sections 4, 20, 20-A and 25 of the Indian Telegraph Act.



Brave woman foils robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The bravery of a woman and the alertness of the Dugri police prevented a major robbery in broad daylight late this afternoon at Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Nagar. The shocking part of the case was that the robbers were allegedly hired by a relative of the woman to harm her.

The relative, her husband’s elder brother, allegedly did so after he was not given money by the woman to buy drugs.

One of the robbers, Anil Kumar of Gurpal Nagar, was arrested while another one, identified as Lucky, managed to escape. The main suspect, Mandeep Singh, alias Deepa, who had allegedly hired the robbers is at large.

The woman, Inderjit Kaur (30), wife of Gurmail Singh, a mason, was alone in her house when the two robbers, armed with knives, entered the house on the plea that Mandeep Singh, who had visited the house in the morning, had forgotten his spectacles.

The robbers attacked the woman as soon as they entered the house.

However, she not only managed to save herself, but also beat up one of the robbers. She raised the alarm, following which the robbers stabbed her on the arms. The neighbours alerted the police, which caught one of the robbers after a chase.

DSP Ravcharan Singh Brar and ASI Vinod Kumar, in charge of the Dugri police post, said Mandeep Singh was the elder brother of the woman’s husband.

He had allegedly hired the robbers as the woman was not allowing the family to pay him money for drugs.



4 arrested for stealing plaques
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The plaques that had gone missing from statues of martyrs in the city were sold for Rs 600 and above by four migrants, who had developed the habit of stealing nameplates from residences in the city.

The four migrants, Anil Kumar and Akhlesh Sahni, both from Bihar, and Ram Saroye and Bablu, both from Uttar Pradesh, have been arrested by the local police, which has finally succeeded in unravelling the mystery shrouding the missing plaques. The plaques from the statues of Flying Officer Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, Major Bhupinder Singh, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev had gone missing a month ago.

In order to discourage scrap dealers from buying goods of national importance, which have scrap value, the police has also booked a scrap dealer, Rajiv of Guru Nanak Nagar, who had bought the plaques from them. A case under Section 413 of the IPC has been registered against him. A plaque of the statue of Bhagat Singh has been recovered from his possession. The rest have been sold by him.

Those arrested told the police that they had come to the city to earn a livelihood by working as labourers, but started indulging in minor thefts to make both ends meet. They had been living off the roads and had no permanent dwelling.

They started with stealing nameplates followed by logs from railway lines. Finally, they saw the plaques on the martyrs’ statues and removed them. They told the police that they removed the plates on different days after the first one fetched them an amount of Rs 600.

The gang was busted by Sub-Inspector Gurpreet Singh, SHO, Haibowal police station. SP R.K. Jaiswal told Ludhiana Tribune that gang members had indulged in stealing iron parts from railway tracks. He added that it could have lead to a tragedy.

The issue of missing plaques had become a controversy in the past.The Deputy Commissioner had ordered an inquiry and directed the SSP to register a case. Finally, a case was registered under section 379 of the IPC by the police against unidentified persons. The civil administration had then decided to put up granite plaques instead of the metallic ones so that these could not be stolen. 



‘Yoga has changed our lives’
Lovleen Bains

Doraha, December 28
Ever since a yog sansthan introduced its classes in the pollution-free atmosphere of Guru Nanak National College here in 1999, people in the town have witnessed a sea change in their physical, mental, social and psychological behaviour.

A majority of them have accepted yoga as a way of life, which, they say alone can keep them hale and hearty in the existing humdrum.

People of the town, who attend yoga classes regularly, feel that they have been relieved from a majority of physical and mental ailments that had made them sick for the past many years.

Mr Tarlok Singh Jaggi, a resident of the area, feels that one feels light after doing yoga. “We can handle our day’s work being cheerful. Besides, the mental peace it provides to our restless brain helps keep anger under control and handle every situation with minimum pressure”.

The inner purgation and lightness felt after doing yoga is extreme, says Mr Pritam Singh Jaggi, who never misses out on his exercise.

Another yoga enthusiast asserts, “The open and clean atmosphere of the college campus, communion with God and nature, the sweet fragrance of flowers and trees early in the morning and late in the evening makes us feel in heaven”.

“The link with the Almighty, experienced through various yog asanas, have made my life worth living,” says Mr Pardeep Goel, who is also regular with his exercises.

Mrs Savita Bector, in charge of the evening session, said asanas were being practised with great dedication.

Mr Paramjit Singh, district president and in charge of the local unit of the yog sansthan, said, “With the active support of the college management and the Principal, we began our classes in March, 1999, for the morning session. Since June 15, 2001, the evening classes are also being conducted regularly”.

Mrs Sarabjit Kaur, the morning session in charge, feels, “The overwhelming response we are receiving from people even since the introduction of the yoga classes, has made us more enthusiastic.



Rs 70 lakh service tax recovered
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 28
After the expiry of the extended period for the registration and filing of returns by service providers, the Central Excise Department has started cracking the whip against the defaulters and tax evaders in the region. The service tax preventive staff of the department has conducted inspection of more than 36 units in the city and besides recovery of Rs 70 lakh service tax from them a penalty of Rs 65 lakh was also imposed for non-payment of tax.

According to officials of the Central Excise Department here, the teams of service tax preventive staff had undertaken a door-to-door survey of service providers like health and fitness centres, event managers, clearing and forwarding agents, tent houses and coaching centres that have been brought under the purview of service tax.



Ludhiana Calling

Now that the Christmas euphoria is over, residents are gearing up for the New Year Eve. Bookings in hotels and restaurants are being done, furnishing accessories being purchased and preparations are on in full swing for the occasion. Though some people have ventured overseas for the celebration, things are pretty rosy back home too. From apparel to toys to eatables and furniture — all seem to be doing good business. Even banks do not lag behind— they are promoting personal and home loans to finance these celebrations. Denizens are in perfect jubilant mood after all!

‘Disciplined’ cops

Punjab cops are not known to be a disciplined force. But nobody can match the ‘discipline’ shown by them in writing press notes about their ‘rare’ and ‘ brave’ achievements. No matter if the busting of a gang is routine, sundry or ordinary, the press briefings start from the top rank, down to the lowest. Most of the times it sounds out of the place. Take the instance of catching, say, a cycle thief or a cylinder thief or even a liquor smuggler, the note in Punjabi language will start like this: “As per the instructions given by the SSP saheb Shri ... to the SP saheb Shri ..., under whose special instructions, the DSP saheb Shri... issued orders to the SHO Shri... for catching anti-social elements, the SHO formed a team under Sub- inspector, Shri... who with two ASIs and constables caught a cycle thief at a police nakka on this road.”

Photo by Sayeed AhmedClean, green city

Visitors to the city are greeted by boards, ‘‘ Keep City Clean and Green’’. But how much are the authorities serious about the message can be gauged from the wornout and rusted boards flashing the messages. It seems they have not been painted or replaced for years. It is quite an irony that visitors are told to keep the city clean and green while the authorities do not even see the bad impression the boards make.

Techno illiterate

New kinds of crime are taking place with the help of advancement in technology. But the men in khakki are ill-equipped and ill-trained to handle most of these cases. At times, the cops leave everybody laughing by their lack of knowledge in these spheres. Recently, a team of cops went to the office of a trader, who dealt in selling computer software. Someone had alleged that the man had stolen a software developed by a city resident. The team of cops headed by a non-gazetted rank official, raided the office and returned victorious within minutes with the monitor of a computer used by the accused. The senior officials who had better knowledge of the computers were aghast. The software is in the CPU (server), but our non-techno cops thought as everything was being seen on the monitor, that machine had only to be impounded ! The monitor obviously did not yield anything and vital clues were lost.

Nightmarish time

City drivers have a nightmarish time at the main crossroads when the signal turns red. While there is already a rush of cars , scooters, rickshaws and many other vehicles waiting for the traffic lights to change, knick-knack sellers and beggars compound the problem. The small-time sellers of knick- knacks like masks, handpumping water sets, remote covers, and feather dusters and those who have a dirty rag and start cleaning the bonnet of the car pester the drivers. The motive is to get money from the motorists.The situation becomes dicey as when the lights turn green, everyone surges forward. But at that time so many of these tiny beings are around the cars that and there is a strong possibility that a small child can be run over.

Digital traffic lights

Chandigarh has it and even Mandi Gobindgarh has it, but digital time-set traffic lights are yet to be introduced in Ludhiana, the financial capital of Punjab. The lights have been received well in Chandigarh and Mandi Gobindgarh. A digital clock showing the reverse counting tells the commuters the time left for the green signal. This is of immense use. It saves petrol and allows the vehicle driver to be ready. This helps in controlling pollution also as drivers switch off the ignition knowing that a lot of time is left. However, the technology is yet to be brought in Ludhiana, which has the highest volume of traffic.

Enterprising Punjabis

Local industrialists might keep complaining about poor infrastructure and industry woes. But when it comes to the world outside, it is their entrepreneurial spirit they like to talk about and simply refuse to accept any negative outlook about themselves. This was quite clear at a recent conference hosted in the city in which the World Bank portrayed a rather dismal picture of state’s finances — it’s initiatives in growth, the investment climate, infrastructural facilities etc. Soon after the presentations, during the interactive session, a city-based industrialist, when given a chance to put forward his opinion, appeared rather annoyed with this portrayal. Not only did he say that the World Bank should not have presented such a negative picture, he praised the enterprising Punjabi spirit, the available resources and said the city had the capability to give a tough competition to even China. Quite enterprising that is!

— Sentinel



Grant for Indo-Pak Punjab Games may rock MC House 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The issue of granting Rs 25 lakh for organising of the Indo-Pak Punjab Games in Patiala by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation may rock the General House meeting of the MC scheduled for tomorrow if one goes by Opposition leaders’ statements.

With the allegation levelled by the Opposition that the MC officials could not give the money without taking up the issue in the House, tomorrow’s meeting is going to feel the heat as far as this issue is concerned.

As many as 12 issues have been decided to be taken up officially in the house. The important ones include night sweeping on seven main entry roads to the city, cleaning of city areas, telling private plot holders to maintain cleanliness on plots and sterilisation of stray dogs.

The direction of the Local Bodies Department asking the local MC to revamp the Park Management Committees (PMCs) by paying them at the rate of 80 paise per sq. feet of maintenance would also be discussed in the meeting. An ambitious plan to interconnect the councillors and all officials of MC through cellphone service provider will also be taken up in the meeting.

The Opposition is claiming that it might raise several other controversial issues in the meeting which might be a stormy affair. They claimed that they would resort to extreme steps if they were not heard.

A number of SAD and BJP councillors met today and decided to spearhead a campaign for declaration of undeclared colonies in the city. Mr Parveen Bansal, leader of the Opposition in the House, said it was ironical that the residents of these colonies were paying house tax to the MC yet most of them were not getting potable water.

He added that the government was trying to be clever by calling these areas undeclared and was not willing to provide civic amenities to the areas.

He added that the issue of some drivers being shown the door by the MC would also be discussed. The problem of shopkeepers who were paying water bill at commercial rates, though water was not being used as a raw material in their business, would also be aired by them.

Some councillors have also decided to take up the issue regarding the delay in holding the general house. They said the meeting was scheduled for December 6 then why it was postponed for so many days.



Communists flay Cong policies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
The two-day general body meeting of the Punjab unit of the MCPI took place here under the chairmanship of Mr Ganda Singh of Sangrur, a veteran Communist leader, who also unfurled the flag of the party. About 70 party activists from various districts of the state participated in it.

Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri’s a Communist leader, observed that leaders of all political parties were pursuing policies of imperialist globalisation, liberalisation and blind privatisation, which were spelling doom for the Indian people. He said it was a matter of regret that even the leadership of the CPI and the CPM were supporting the policies of the Congress by sacrificing the interest of the working class. Mr Lyallpuri appealed to all Communists to oppose these policies.

Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary of the Punjab state committee of the MCPI, traced the emerging trends in the international and Indian Communist movements.

Mr Gurcharan Singh ‘Ajnabi’ explained the Indian philosophy in relation to Marxism and urged the participants to adopt a scientific outlook.

Another senior MCPI leader, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, addressed the activists on party programme.

The meeting in a resolution opposed the decision of the Punjab Cabinet to increase power rates and stamp duty. The meeting appealed to all pro-people parties and organisations to oppose this policy and launch common struggle in this regard.



Harassed by octroi staff, man seeks justice
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 28
A social activist has accused the authorities of the Municipal Council, Bhawanigarh, of inaction against employees of an octroi contractor who had allegedly harassed and manhandled him when he was passing through the town in a car.

In a communication to the Director, Local Bodies, and the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, Mr Tarsem Garg, a social activist of the Chaura Bazar area in the town, has alleged that he was harassed and manhandled by Mukesh Kumar and his associates on November 7 while he was passing through Bhawanigarh town.

According to the complainant, he had gone to visit some relatives on the occasion of Divali. As he had to pass through Nabha, Sangrur, Bathinda, Kotkapura and Jagraon and was carrying some gifts to be presented to his relatives, he got a state transit pass made from the local Municipal Council.

Though employees at all other councils acknowledged the state transit pass issued by the local council, Mukesh Kumar, posing as an employee of an octroi contractor, refused to acknowledge it and insisted that he pay a fine on the value of the gifts.

Mr Garg alleged that Mukesh, along with his associates, detained him for more than four hours and manhandled him. He could escape from their clutch only after paying a fine, arbitrarily fixed by them.

Mr Garg claimed that he had made a written complaint to an employee of the council, who was on duty at the main octroi on the same date, but no action had yet been taken.

The complainant has now urged the higher authorities to investigate the matter and ensure justice for him.



Fashion stores attract NRIs
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, December 28
Non resident Indians seem to be making a beeline to various fashion stores in the city. With a number of people from this place having settled abroad and a good number among them on tour due to the marriage season, fashion stores are making the most of it. NRIs are probably attracted by the competitive price of products here as compared to foreign lands and also the traditional taste that is available here.

According to Mr Sonu Nilibar, who deals in dress materials, most NRIs, particularly women, are rooted in their culture and dress is probably the best manifestation. They would always prefer to dress up traditionally in parties. He disclosed that during the past couple of months, he had seen an unprecedented rush of NRI customers. Most of them are known to us as they are first-generation emmigrants to different countries. There are others who have been referred by some acquaintances”, he disclosed.

Mr Vipan Gupta of a saree store said during this season, the number of NRI customers was as much as the local customers. He pointed out that NRIs mostly depended on the credibility of a store. Mr Gupta disclosed that he had been getting regular orders from abroad. He said during his recent visit to the UK, he found that people of Indian origin mostly preferred to dress up in their traditional way. “This gives them a sense of belonging towards their motherland”, he said.

Mr Pritam Singh, who said deals in fashion fabrics, the NRI clientele had helped the domestic trade to a great degree. “While they prefer the latest trends prevalent in the country, they also contribute by way of their suggestions as they bring new ideas with them”, he said. However, he added that it was not the NRI customers alone who have contributed to the trade, but the domestic demand also. 



Tributes paid to Nanak Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Glowing tributes were paid to noted Punjabi novelist Nanak Singh on his death anniversary at a function organised by the Sirjandhara Shiromani Punjabi Lekhak Sabha here today. Mitter Sen Meet, another novelist was presented with the Nanak Singh Yadgari Puraskar on the occasion.

The speakers recalled the contribution of Nanak Singh to the Punjabi novel. They also deliberated upon the latest trends in the Punjabi novel which had seen a lot of changes. They appreciated the contribution of Mitter Sen to the Punjabi literature.

A collection of 52 articles written by 52 different writers, “ Kafla Chalda Raiga,” was also released on the occasion. Dr Kartar Singh Suri, son of Nanak Singh, who is himself a novelist, highlighted various aspects of his father’s novels.

Among those who participated in the seminar included Prof Tek Kaur Dardi, Prof Kulwant Jagraon, Prof M.S. Cheema, Dr S.N. Sevak, Karanjit Singh Aujla, Prof Inderpreet Singh, Dr Swaranjit Grewal, Mohinder Singh Sodhi, Ajit Singh Arora and Prem Singh. 



Death mourned

Samrala, December 28
Two minutes’ silence was observed here today by members of the Youth Akali Dal under the leadership of Mr Rupinder Singh Mundi, national general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Youth), in memory of the mother of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, former minister and general secretary of the SAD, in the local Civil Rest House.

Among others who attended the meeting were Youth Akali leaders, Mr Gurtej Pal Singh Bhagwanpura, Mr Rupinder Singh Benipal, Mr Jagjiwan Singh Kheernian, Giani Mohinder Singh Bhanglan, Jathedar Gurdev Singh Mushkabad, Jathedar Kartar Singh Mehdoodan, Mr Darshan Singh Lopon, Mr Gurmeet Singh Lakhanpur, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaini Sahib, Mr Jagdev Singh Bhattian and Mr Balvir Singh Mann. In a resolution, the leaders appealed to the former Chief Minister and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to install the statue of the departed soul. OC



Import of metallic waste allowed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 28
Much to the relief of the industry in Punjab, the Director-General Foreign Trade has permitted import of metallic waste and scrap at the container depot here.
A notice by the DGFT states that import of metallic waste and scrap in unshredded, compressed and loose form shall be permitted through various ports, including ICD Ludhiana.

The other ports where such scrap and waste import has been permitted include Chennai, Cochin, JNPT, Mumbai, Kolkata, New Mangalore, ICD Tughlakabad and ICD Dadri and Greater Noida.


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