L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Couple murder: four ‘confess’ to crime
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Four of the five accused, including a retired police Sub-Inspector, in the shocking honour killing of a couple case have confessed to hiring professional killers for the job. They stated that the main accused, Amrik Singh, who was in Australia, had hatched the entire conspiracy and knew the killers, the Sadar police claimed this afternoon.

The police has also initiated proceedings for deporting the main accused, Amrik Singh, father of one of the victims Amandeep Kaur, from Australia while hoping that he would return on his own and join investigations.

The city police has claimed of taking the help of the Australian Embassy for the purpose even as a lot of loopholes exist in the police investigations conducted so far. The police has not been able to furnish any concrete evidence against the accused other than the complaint of the boy’s family that the relatives of Amandeep Kaur had been threatening the couple for the inter-caste marriage.

The four accused are the killed woman’s maternal grandfather B. S. Randhawa (aged over 70), a retired Development Officer with the LIC, and three uncles (fufars) — one of them a former Punjab Police Sub-Inspector Kulwant Singh, serving Head Constable with Amritsar police Tejinder Singh and Sukhdev Singh.

Addressing a press conference SHO Sadar Sandeep Sharma claimed that the four accused had confessed before the police that the couple — wood trader Harpreet Singh and his wife Amandeep Kaur, a BDS student — was ‘punished’ for marrying outside their castes.

They said Amandeep Kaur had lowered their image in the community by marrying outside the caste. They stated to the police that it took them nearly a year to carry out murders as they had been waiting for an opportune time.

The revelation that two cops, one retired and one serving, were involved in the case has again put the Punjab Police in bad light. Four years ago, the infamous Jassi murder case hatched on similar caste lines also had a serving cop in the list of the accused.

The case now hinges on the return of Amrik Singh from Australia with the arrested persons putting all blame on him and the city police convinced with the statements of the accused as well as the complainants without securing any evidence.

SHO Sandeep Sharma said Kulwant Singh and Sukhdev Singh were arrested from Amritsar while Tejinder Singh and B. S. Randhawa were arrested from the local railway station here when they were trying to flee the city last evening.

The SHO said that the accused had threatened the couple and the boy’s relatives during their ring ceremony in Amritsar and later again at their marriage ceremony in Mariot Hotel here. The couple had got married in a city court about 11 months ago.

After that Amandeep Kaur’s relatives had invited them to their homes and claimed they had accepted the couple. They had then organised formal ring and marriage ceremonies.

Interestingly, the relatives of the accused had been claiming that the police had raided their houses and picked them up and kept them in illegal custody since Sunday.

The prime accused, Amrik Singh, had yesterday pleaded innocence in the case and counter alleged that some relatives of Harpreet Singh were involved in the murder. When asked if the police would register a case against them too as Amrik Singh has also made a statement like the complainants, the SHO said the police would investigate the charges.

Meanwhile, the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr G.C. Garg, today remanded four accused of infamous couple murder case in one-day police remand.

Amandeep Kaur and her husband. Hardeep Singh, was murdered mercilessly, allegedly by the family members of woman by hatching a conspiracy.

The prosecution sought the police remand for further investigation. The judge remanded the accused.



BSP to monitor probe into ‘honour killing’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The state Bahujan Samaj Party will “monitor” the investigations into the honour killing of a couple recently in Ludhiana.

The state BSP president, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, said although the party was satisfied with the action taken by the police so far, it wanted to ensure that the investigations were not influenced at any stage.

Talking to The Tribune, after presiding over a meeting of party leaders here today, Mr Karimpuri said a coordination committee of eleven senior leaders had been constituted to monitor the investigations on day-to-day basis. The committee would submit its weekly report to the state party unit.

He said if at any stage it was found that the investigations were not being conducted in a fair manner, the party would not hesitate from launching a mass movement.

He disclosed that a delegation of the party today met the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Ludhiana Range, Mr Parag Jain, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, urging them to ensure that the victims got the justice.

He said the party had full faith in the administration and the police but feared that some influential quarters at the top might try to prejudice the investigations.

Mr Karimpuri also announced that the BSP would organise the “bhog” and “antim ardas” of the couple on January 19 at the Dhana Mandi. The BSP workers from across the district would attend the bhog ceremony, while the leaders from all over the state would also be attending the function.

He said since the couple was related to the state BSP general secretary, Mr Parkash Singh Jandiali, the party had taken it upon itself to organise the function. Moreover, Mr Karimpuri pointed out this was no ordinary bhog and the issue involved was far too important as it concerned to society.



PNB acts tough against defaulter, takes possession
of property

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Aiming to curb its non-performing assets (NPAs), Punjab National Bank (PNB) took possession of the property of an alleged defaulter.

The bank officials sealed the property of Gautam Enterprises and Gautam Textiles in Bagh Wali Gali here today.

The property was sealed under Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act and the bank, which has already issued notices to several defaulters, will take possession and sell properties of such defaulters if they fail to pay the amount due.

According to the bank officials Gautam Enterprises and Gautam Textiles owes Rs 22 lakh to the bank.

“They had taken loan from us for business purposes. However, after they stopped paying instalments, the bank issued them notice. Now that they have failed to clear the amount we have taken possession of their property,” said Mr Anil Sama, Chief Manager, zonal office, PNB, who headed the team that took over the possession of the property.

Mr Sama said after taking possession the defaulter gets a period of 30 days to clear his dues. “But if they do not clear the debt even during this period we will have to sell the property,” he said.

The move to take possession of defaulters properties has been intensified by finance companies and banks recently with the aim to curb non-performing assets that registered manifold increase in the recent years.

The companies and banks, which have been focussing on increasing their business by offering attractive financing for various purposes, have been facing problem in the recovery of the amount borrowed. While many companies reportedly resort to measures like hiring private agencies and goons, inclusion of housing finance companies under the Securitisation Act have helped them to take possession of the properties and sell them.

“This is the last resort for us. Our aim is not to trouble the borrower or customer but if they do not pay the loan amount we are left with no other option. It is advisable that the people, who go in for loans, ensure that their instalments are paid well in time,” said Mr Sama.

He said the PNB, which has issued notices to various defaulters, will take possession and sell the properties in case the defaulters failed to settle their accounts.



Suspected case of infanticide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
While Punjab is facing the serious problem of declining female population, a suspected case infanticide has rocked the city.

The body of a girl child was found dumped in a garbage heap in the Suraj Nagar area of New Shimla Puri late last evening. Stray dogs were pulling the body when some passersby spotted it and called the police.

SHO Jogi Raj said the police had registered a case under Section 318 (concealment of birth by dumping the body) of the IPC against unknown persons. The post-mortem examination revealed that the infant was just one or two days old and seemed to have died of asphyxia.

However, it was not clear if someone had strangulated her or suffocated her. The infant had not died of cold. Police suspected it to be a case of infanticide.

The police was inquiring from city hospitals, nursing homes or mid-wives about the birth of a girl child in the past two days. The investigations so far have not yielded any results.



Four hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, January 12
Four members of a family, including two children, were injured when a Maruti van in which they were travelling hit a bus ahead of it, near Gurdwara Attar Sar Sahib, 3 km from here, today.

The injured, Raj Kumar, son of Malkiat Singh, his wife Hardeep Kaur and their two children Harman Singh (2) and Simranjit Kaur (7) all of Ikolaha village, were immediately taken to Sidhu Hospital at Doraha where their position is reported to be out of danger.

The accident took place at 9.30 am when a Moga Depot Bus of Punjab Roadways applied sudden breaks and the van following the bus hit the bus.



‘Spurious’ fertiliser being prepared on farm land
Our Correspondent

Doraha, January 12
A part of the panchayat land, meant for agricultural purposes, is being allegedly used for preparing a duplicate ‘fertiliser’ — ferrous sulphate, for the past three months, at Sultanpur village, 7 km from here.

Out of a total of 10 acres of panchayat land, 4 acres was a fish pond, earlier. But now this land has been converted into pits which are 70 in number, each 70 feet long, 15 feet wide and 3 feet deep. According to sources, a harmful pollutant is being dumped into these pits which evaporates steadily, leaving behind a ‘duplicate’ fertiliser that is then filled into sacks and sold.

A section of villagers allege that the sarpanch of the village is using the panchayat land, meant for agricultural purposes, for personal gains.

They further alleged that he along with his party members allowed the pits to the prepared and an acidic liquid dumped into the three pits. They said this liquid is damaging the productivity of the soil and shall render it barren one day.

Mr Daljit Singh, BDPO, Doraha, when contacted said, “As this particular land was lying vacant, it was auctioned on lease to some people for a period of two years for agricultural purposes six months back, it was only recently when I received written complaints, that I came to know that the land is no longer being used for agricultural purposes and that too under the very nose of the sarpanch. I immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter on December 31, in which the sarpanch was asked to justify his stand on the issue within a stipulate period of seven days.”

“In response to the letter, the sarpanch said that it was done to increase the panchayat’s income”, the BDPO added.

On the other hand, the Chief Agricultural Officer when contacted on the telephone, said, “A team of experts including two ADO’s and a local officer visited the spot and affirmed that the acidic liquid was harmful but since polythene sheets had been spread in every pit, it had not caused any damage to the productivity of the soil.”

Asked whether the fertiliser samples were collected from the sacks lying near the land, he said, “since the material was neither packed nor labelled, it was no use taking the samples.”

According to a panch of the village, “The people engaged in this process do not know whether a chemical is being used unlawfully. Moreover, the fertiliser being prepared is in no way of agricultural grade.”

The matter had been reported to the police who are waiting for the team of agricultural experts to submit their report so that further inquiries may be initiated.



South African minister lauds PAU role in farm research
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Mr Narend Singh, a minister in the Kwaazulu Natal province of South Africa, today said there was a great scope for mutual cooperation between India and South Africa and Punjab Agricultural University could play a pivotal role in it.

Speaking at a reception organised by the PAU during his visit here today, Mr Narend Singh said the PAU could play an important role in the development of agricultural research and extension in his province.

He recalled the century- old relations between India and South Africa. He said Mahatma Gandhi inspired a sense of freedom among the people of South Africa. He emphasised the need of freedom on the path of progress. He appreciated the Indian farmers saying they had played a significant role in the agricultural sector of South Africa. He assured that a mutual agreement would also be signed for this purpose.

Mr Narend Singh said the PAU saved India from the clutches of hunger. He disclosed, “I also belong to India because my grandfather Bindashawi Singh migrated to South Africa on April 14, 1897, from Gorakhpur, U.P”. He said his father, Mr Tarloki Singh, taught him about the golden traditions of India. He said South Africa could learn much from India for the development of education, agriculture and small- scale industries.

The Vice-Chancellor of the PAU, Dr KS Aulakh, while welcoming Dr Narend Singh and his wife presented a ‘phulkari’, memento and a set of books published by the Centre for Communication, Languages and Culture, PAU, to them.

Dr Aulakh, assured the minister of active cooperation in agri-research, education and extension to South Africa. Dr Aulakh said five colleges of the PAU were actively engaged in agricultural development. The university has adopted the land grant systems of the USA and the 54 scientists of the university have been awarded Ph.D degrees by Ohio State University.

He said degrees awarded by the PAU have been recognised by Canada and America. Dr Aulakh said the mutual cooperation would be strengthened. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, Mr Sumer Singh Gurjer, Additional Deputy Commissioner and officers of the university were also present on the occasion.

Mr Carlos Agostinho Do Rasario, High Commissioner of Mozambique, who also visited the PAU today, said due to the cooperation of the university, the students of Mozambique had benefitted a lot. He said although the students belonging to Mozambique were not proficient in English but the PAU staff was quite cooperative towards them.

Dr Aulakh said every facility was being provided to the foreign scholars. All Deans, Directors and most of the faculty members were present on the occasion. Mr Rasario also met the students of Mozambique studying at the PAU and interacted with them on many important issues. The High Commissioner will pay a visit to the Golden Temple, Amritsar, tomorrow.



Will Ravinder Ravi become ‘Indian Idol’?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Will it be a rags-to-riches story? It seems so, with the way Ravinder Ravi, a city-based painter, is clearing each round and is now among the top eight contestants in the country vying for the Indian Idol title.

Ravinder, never trained in singing, is competing with singers from across the country and has cleared several rounds and is now among the top eight. Every week, based on public polling, one contestant, who gets the minimum votes has to leave. The contestant who would be declared as “Indian Idol”, a contest by Sony TV, would bag a contract of Rs 1 crore from the channel.

Ravinder, who eked out a living by whitewashing houses in Ludhiana, became public’s favourite after he sang Rafi’s ‘Khuda bhi aasman se jab zamin pe dekhta hoga’. Even Farah Khan, a renowned choreographer who is one of the jury members for the competition, said she felt proud to be a part of the Indian Idol show due to participants like Ravinder Ravi.

“Anu Malik’s complement that his days of oblivion were over gave us another ray of hope,” said Dara Taak, his relative, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune.

While the previous rounds saw Ravinder as highly talented, managing to clear the toughest of conditions, the recent rounds are witness only to unhappy judges who are stressing on ‘sur’. In the last episode, jury members appreciated Ravinder for his performance — his looks have been completely changed — but expressed extreme shock when another candidate, who they thought was more talented, was voted out as Ravinder got more votes than him.

It is public voting which is now taking Ravinder to further rounds.

With the judges’ opinion, one becomes sceptical, “but he says he is giving his best and we are sure people, who have loved him so much, will vote for him,” feels Dara.

Ravinder, who is quite happy to be recognised on a national level, said his talent was discovered when he was once painting the house of Hansraj and Sushil Gakad who bring out music cassettes.

Dara said Ravinder was planning to bring out music cassettes. “Let us see if he gets a chance in Bollywood. I recently met Mr Sawan Kumar Tak who has assured that he will give Ravinder a chance.

But the main aim now is that he wins the Indian Idol,” said Dara, “adding, “infact it is people like him, untrained due to lack of resources and opportunities, who deserve to be Indian Idols. We have left all to the God and the public.”



City cries for parking spaces
D.B. Chopra

Ludhiana, January 12
Officials of the Tehbazari Department of the Municipal Corporation came this morning to the Post Office road and carted away 13 scooters and two motor cycles which were parked along the road outside the branch of Bharat Overseas Bank.

Though this exercise has become a routine, it has failed to discourage haphazard parking of two wheelers on the entire stretch of the road that connects the Deepak Cinema road to the GT road at Mata Rani chowk.

The Post Office road is a wide road capable of taking the bulk of the traffic between the old city and the Civil Lines via the Damoria bridge. But driving on this road has now become a nightmarish experience. Both cars and scooters are parked all along the road so haphazardly that one needs extra driving skills to wade through the road.

Since the parking space available within the Bhadaur House market is already bursting at the seams, the road is becoming an alternative. The same is true of the rest of the old city which is inter-connected with various bazars and a web of alleys and lanes.

Where there is no haphazard parking along the roads, there are extensions by shops and rehris which impede the smooth flow of traffic. Jams in the vicinity of Girjaghar Chowk and Division No. 3 chowk have become a permanent feature in the old city.

Though a spacious parking exists in the Books Market, the area around it, namely the Gujjarmal road, the Pindi street and Chowk Kesar Ganj remain congested throughout the day.

The multi-storeyed parking near the Mata Rani chowk is gradually becoming more popular but on the whole the parking complex has not made much of a difference as far as the ground situation is concerned. The need for more parkings spaces is being felt. The municipal corporation has plans to built around five to six multi-floored parkings in various parts of the city in the future. But the question is whether the answer to city’s traffic problems lies in the construction of more multi-floor parking complexes or widening of the city roads by removing all extensions and projections?



PAUTA charges disputed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Dr Balwant Singh, convener of the PAU Employees and Teachers Joint Action Committee, today disputed charges of the PAU Teachers Association president, Dr Hari Singh Brar, that he (Dr Balwant Singh) was maligning the image of the university.

In a statement issued here today, Dr Singh alleged that Dr Brar had never identified himself with the cause of the teachers or employees. He claimed he had never raised his voice against the victimisation of the teachers and employees at the hands of the university. Raising voice against injustice did not mean maligning the image of an institution, he pointed out.



Exotic plant comes to town
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
In keeping with Ludhiana city’s constant desire to keep abreast with the latest in fashion and trends, Europe’s latest fad in horticulture, the flaming poinsettia’s dwarf varieties, is available at a local nursery.

The Poinsettias though a perennial plant blooms in the winters to become the most beautiful flower in the garden.

The plant comes in a variety of colours which add colour to the garden, especially in the winters.

Poinsettia was first discovered in Mexico in 1828. The plant ranges in height from 2-3m in bush form to 20 cm in its miniature form.

It is becoming popular around the world as the perfect winter plant.



Chetna March to be taken out on January 16
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 12
A press conference was held in Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib here today to discuss the forthcoming Chetna March which is to be taken out on January 16.

Addressing the conference, Giani Dharamvir Singh, Head Priest, Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib, chalked out the route of the Chetna March.

He said the march would be led by panj piaras and will include kirtani jathas, representatives of Singh sabhas, istri satsang sabhas, shabdi jathas, members of different religious and political organisations and hundreds of school children. The march will end at Gurdwara Manji Sahin, Alamgir.

The march will be flagged off by Bibi Jagir Kaur, President, SGPC.



BJP leader’s security withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
Just a month after the BJP leaders have launched an agitation against the Punjab police, the police has withdrawn the security cover from senior BJP leader and former Deputy Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Satpal Gosain here today.

Four gunmen of the Punjab police on security duty with Mr Gosain were today directed to join duty at the police lines with immediate effect.

Confirming this Mr Gosain condemned the action saying that he was paying the price for raising his voice against ‘police atrocities’.

A senior police official said the orders had come from police headquarters and they did not know the reason for the withdrawal.



Pathankot man cycles to Delhi for tsunami relief
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 12
The tsunami tragedy has moved several people to contribute in their own ways for immediate relief for the victims as well as for rebuilding process of the devastated cities, towns and villages.

Satish Sharma, a 45-year- old small time trader from Pathankot, has set on a journey from that city to New Delhi collecting funds for the tsunami victims. He aims to hand over the funds to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Apart from the noble cause of his journey, Satish is attracting attention because of his small-size-bicycle. ‘‘ It is basically meant for children. I am using it to attract people for collecting more donations.’’

Satish does not demand money from anyone. He has pasted a placard on the front of the cycle with a box attached to it. An appeal message has been written on the placard and people donate on their own. He left Pathankot on January 8 and reached Ludhiana this morning. He claimed to have collected Rs 4,500 so far. ‘‘ I feel people hesitate in donating money to me thinking I will pocket the amount’’ he said.

He left for Delhi later today.



Two held for snatching purse
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 12
Two scooterists were caught red-handed when they tried to flee after snatching a purse from a woman in Guru Teg Bahadur mohalla. They were later handed over to the police.

The duo has been identified as Darshan Singh and Jagjit Singh.



Trade, industry up in arms over VAT, service tax
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 12
Even as trade and industry were yet to come to terms with the widening of the service tax net, with the threat of forthcoming value added tax (VAT) looming large over them the Department of Excise and Taxation was learnt to have started an elaborate exercise to prepare its officials and supporting staff for the VAT regime, scheduled to become operative from April 2005.

Refusing to bow to the dictates of the government, particularly on the imposition of VAT, several representative bodies of the traders and industrial community were flexing their muscles to launch a decisive battle in the near future.

The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, the Bhartiya Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal and the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, to name a few, had already announced to start agitation against both the Central and the state government over these taxes.

It was learnt that the Excise and Taxation Department had set in motion the process for issuing fresh tax identification numbers (TIN) to all registered dealers in the state numbering around 1.5 lakh, which would replace the existing sales tax registration numbers once the VAT came into effect.

According to senior officials of the department, all 35 check barriers, existing on the entry points of the state, were slated to go online in the VAT regime and would have all the relevant information about any particular dealer by punching his TIN.

The task, however, seemed to be easier said than done, if sources in the department were to be believed. Although the top brass of the department had been impressing upon the Excise and Taxation Officers (ETO’s) as well as other Field and Enforcement staff to make themselves computer proficient to deal with the day-to-day work relating to VAT, a lot of work had still to be done in this direction.

The sources further claimed that even now all computer related work in the Excise and Taxation Department was being done by persons hired on contract basis.

Irked over the adamant attitude of the government, the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal had called a meeting of the state executives here on coming Sunday to chalk out the modalities of the stir against VAT.

Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, general secretary of the mandal told Ludhiana Tribune that the members of the trade community were not opposed to VAT as such but the harsh and draconian provisions of the new tax regime would have to be scrapped before the new tax regime became acceptable.

He was also sore over what he described as betrayal by the government in going ahead with VAT without withdrawing other local taxes and levies. “When VAT was proposed, the government had promised that multiple taxation will no longer continue and other taxes like sales tax, entry tax and octroi will be withdrawn under the VAT system of taxation,” he said.

Mr Tulsi Das Jaitwani, senior vice-president, Bhartiya Udyog Vyapar Pratinidhi Mandal, who had returned to the city only this morning after attending a two day seminar on VAT and service tax at Delhi, informed that the members of trade and industry from all over the country dwelt at length on the adverse impact of bringing transport and electroplaters in the service tax net.

It was unanimously decided by the mandal to observe black day on January 18 and the transporters would suspend the loading and unloading of goods from January 20. The mandal would also give a call for Bharat bandh on February 21 if the government did not relent.

Meanwhile, the United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association, the biggest representative body of cycle trade and industry, had formulated an elaborate programme of agitation against service tax and VAT.

According to Mr G. L. Pahwa, president, and Mr Varinder Kapoor, secretary of the association, it was decided to hoist black flags atop all industrial units in the city and further to “gherao” the Central Excise Office on January 27 to protest against the imposition of service tax on several services and processes in cycle industry.


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