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Toll staff attacked by truck union supporters
Our Correspondent

Doraha, January 25
As many as 200 persons carrying bamboo sticks allegedly attacked the staff at Toll Plaza today, resulting in minor injuries to those posted there. Mr Abhinay Bansal, toll manager told this correspondent that nearly 150 to 200 persons, supposedly from the truck union and carrying bamboo sticks, attacked the toll plaza and thrashed him, guards, booth operators, office staff and officials, including the assistant toll manager.

As a result, most of our staff members received minor injuries. Not only this, they broke the window panes of the toll booths. They attacked us mercilessly and took away cash of approximately Rs 35,000 lying at the toll plaza. All this happened within half an hour. We were taken aback by the incident and could do nothing, he added.

He said the matter had been reported to the Doraha police chowki in charge, Mr Kuldip Singh, Additional ASI, who said investigations were on in the matter.

Meanwhile, Mr Tarlochan Singh Sethi, secretary, Truck Union, when contacted, said,” The truck union is supplying material to a factory just near the toll plaza, for which we do not cross the barrier and it is just at the toll spot. On January 15, when our driver refused to pass the toll, he was ill treated and insulted by the toll employees, for which we had warned them not to do so in future. Today also the toll employees asked the truck driver to get an entry slip first, which having been refused, he was beaten up by the toll people. He had to be taken in an injured condition to civil dispensary at Doraha.”

Mr Bansal said a truck driver came from the Delhi side today and intentionally hit the toll barrier, injuring our guard. “After some altercation between the driver and our employees that followed, the entire plaza was surrounded by their men, who attacked us with sticks,” he added.

A move was, meanwhile, afoot between the warring parties to arrive at a compromise at the time of filing of this report.



Tiger Safari has new attractions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 25
The Tiger Safari, near the War Museum on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road, beckons visitors with new attractions. Two Himalayan bears and six Royal Bengal tigers were brought to the safari last week.

While the six tigers were sent here from the Chhat Bir zoo on January 18, the two bears, Kala (male) and Kanta (female), were brought yesterday. There are 13 tigers, nine males and four females, in the safari now. The bears have been brought for the first time.

The plan to move a pair of bears was announced more than four years ago. The enclosure made at that time has now been renovated.

Kala and Kanta are five and six years old, respectively. They would be kept together for breeding purposes. An enclosure with 100 feet radius with large open space and four rooms in the centre has been readied for the animals.

The bears are being fed milk, pulses, rice, maize flour chapatis and seasonal fruits.

Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Director, Chhat Bir zoo and Tiger Safari, told Ludhiana Tribune on the phone that the safari would have more animals and better facilities for visitors.



Freedom fighter fails to get his due
Threatens to stage dharna outside CM’s residence
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 25
A freedom fighter, who took part in Quit India Movement when he was just 18, is worried about the repayment of loans he had availed from his friends and relatives for his treatment more than two years ago as his medical bills had not been reimbursed by the state government. Disappointed over the attitude of the authorities, he has threatened to stage a dharna outside the residence of the Chief Minister if appropriate action was not taken on his application which he has sent fourth time.

Dr Niranjan Singh (80) was just 18-year-old when he left his home at Brahampur village for joining the Quit India Movement in 1942. He was sentenced for 18-month jail for various activities and having relations with Mr Inder Kumar Gujral, Mr Inder Mohan and Mr Baldev Singh (all student leaders). He spent the term of his sentence at Bostal Jail and Multan Jail and had to stay in one cell without food and water for 21 days.

Even after Independence, Dr Niranjan Singh continued his revolutionary life under the banner of various labour and kisan organisations and worked as general secretary of the freedom fighters’ association at Hisar. Though he was honoured with a Tamar Patra and was allotted a piece of land near Hisar as recognition of his services to the nation, he had to face humiliation for getting the reimbursement of the medical expenses he had made two years earlier after borrowing from his friends and relatives.

Dr Niranjan Singh had been suffering from many complications for more than 13 years. Besides getting a pace maker fitted for the harmonic functioning of his heart, he had to undergo amputation of his right leg.

“As I was made to understand that the state government would reimburse the expenses incurred on my treatment, I borrowed money from my friends and relatives and got my treatment done from CMC Hospital and Sigma Hospital situated at Ludhiana. But despite my best efforts, the department did not make the payment as I refused to adopt the ‘routine’ method of getting the payment,” explained Dr Niranjan Singh.

Though the family had spent more than Rs 3 lakh on his treatment, the bill for an amount of around Rs 1.19 lakh had been forwarded by the office of the CMO and the DC at Ludhiana. As he suffered from coronary heart disease and status infected SKEW flap of right side was also diagnosed, the doctors had to incorporate a pace maker and right leg was amputated due to diabetes.

Commenting on the decision of the District Sangrur Freedom Fighters Association to boycott the Republic Day Celebrations, Dr Niranjan Singh said they should have taken the step much before as receiving awards and honours were meaningless unless the government recognised their sacrifice in true spirit.

Meanwhile, the state government has sought the details of the case from the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana.



High Court moved for quashing FIR
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 25
Even after eight weeks of the registration of the case by the Malerkotla police against 24 persons, including two dead persons, no arrests have been made so far. A human rights activist and advocate of the princely town has filed a case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the FIR quashed that had allegedly been registered to settle scores with the accused.

The police on the other hand claimed that it had registered the case in the interest of public and would proceed to cancel it if the charges were not established.

In the FIR, the Sadar Malerkotla SHO has narrated that during a special naka at the Grewal Chowk on December 7, an informer had told him that the accused were involved in the trafficking of opium, poppy husk and hooch and were running a gambling business. He got a case registered against 24 persons under Sections 61/1/14 of the Excise Act, Sections 13/3/67 of the Gambling Act, and Sections 15/61/85 and 18/61/85 of the NDPS Act through Head Constable Harjit Singh.

The police had to face an embarrassing situation later when it was found that two of the accused, Bana of Kailon Gate and Safi of Sirhandi Gate, had died much before the registration of the case.

Mr Iqbal Ahmed, advocate, said he had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for quashing the FIR. Mr Gurbir Singh, Additional Sessions Judge at Sangrur, had already accepted his plea that the police had registered a false case. Referring to the judgement in case of Rakesh Paul Puri versus State, Mr Gurbir Singh ordered that, “There was no justification for allowing the arrest of the applicant. So applicants are ordered to be released on bail in the event of their furnishing a personal bond of Rs 15,000 each.”

Mr Iqbal Ahmed had in the bail application contended that the SHO had registered a false case allegedly to extort money. Failure of the police to recover anything from the accused was also taken seriously. Now the rights activist has approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the FIR quashed.



2 killed, 7 injured in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 25
Two occupants of a jeep were killed on the spot and seven others were injured when their vehicle hit a stationary canter near Begupura Gurdwara, 6 km from here, this morning.

The canter (PAR 5286) was parked on the Moga - Jagraon GT Road near the gurdwara since night as it had developed some fault. At about 6.45 a.m., the jeep, bearing number HR-32-6687, while coming from Moga, with nine occupants and bound for Nanaksar Gurdwara, hit the canter.

Those killed in the accident were indentified as Balbir Singh, son of Gurbax Singh, and his friend Daman Singh, son of Saudagar Singh, both of Moga. The injured persons are Bhupinder Singh, Nachhattar Singh, Avtar Singh, Swaran Singh, Gurcharan Singh and Sukhwinder Singh.

The driver Naginder Singh was also injured. No case has been registered. Fog was said to be the reason behind the accident.



Improvement Trust to launch housing projects
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Ludhiana Improvement Trust (LIT) will launch two housing projects under which multi-storeyed HIG and MIG flats will be offered to the city residents in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Maharishi Balmiki Nagar residential colonies, developed by the trust.

Giving this information, the LIT chairman, Wg Cdr Paramjit Singh Sibia, told Ludhiana Tribune that Rajiv Enclave would envisage construction of 108 HIG and 54 HIG (Super Deluxe) flats in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar. The semi-finished flats, under self-financing and partially self-financing schemes, would be tentatively priced from Rs 14.6 lakh to Rs 15.6 lakh. The housing project, to be named after late Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi, would have all modern facilities like lifts, community terrace, club house, green lawns and a swimming pool.

Similarly, the second scheme would provide for construction of three-storeyed 111 MIG flats in Maharishi Balmiki Nagar with a price tag ranging between Rs 10 lakh to Rs 10.40 lakh.

Mr Sibia said the registration for booking of flats would commence on January 27 and would remain open till February 28.



Ludhiana Calling

Photo by Sayeed AhmedAttempts to woo customers by private companies saw customer care executives who were sweet as saccharin. The initial phase, or shall one say euphoria over, executives of private companies do not hesitate to behave rudely with their customers. Maximum number of complaints of such cases come in case of private banks and mobile phone companies. A resident recently complained of a leading private bank employee berating customers “as they had not formed a proper queue”. In another case when a subscriber of a mobile phone company complained of poor network to a customer care executive all he got in response was “what can we do?” Its time private companies got their act together.

Untapped talent

The recent state-level school science exhibition was once again a showcase for the scientific talent awaiting to be tapped. We can lag behind in infrastructure and facilities but as far as talent was concerned we are second to none. From models of advance alert of tsunami to automatic railway barriers apart from scores of household utility machines, the students seem to have answer to all problems confronting the country. Yet, the models would be reduced to just showpieces in the school almirahs and gather dust. With no commercial exploitation of the models, those just remain ideas waiting to prosper.

No genuine takers

If the city is home to a large number of beggars, the generosity of city residents is at its peak when extending alms to them. One such resident was recently in for a shock. He, who would almost regularly give money to small children who sang and performed in buses, would justify his ‘generosity’ saying those kids were genuine cases where help was required. However, much to his shock, one day he noticed that the moment the child, who had collected money from a bus, got down, a middle-aged man took away all his money and boarded the child to another bus- for begging. So shocked was this resident that he decided never to give anything to beggars.

Phone bills

While private companies keep complaining of increasing number of defaulters, no less is the number of those subscribers who are taken for a ride by these companies. One such subscriber, who had requested the company to disconnect his mobile number, kept receiving phone bills even two months after the request. When he contacted the company, the executives simply told him he had to pay the bill as he had no proof that he had furnished such request. On refusing, the company executives went ahead to tell him that they knew what means to adopt to ensure recovery from such clients. “They behaved as if I was some big defaulter, whereas I have entire record of all payments that were made well in time,” the irritated customer rued.

VAT or tsunami?

The issue of VAT is being so widely discussed that every second day there is either an awareness campaign or some protest against the tax that is scheduled to be implemented around two months from now. So much are the apprehensions related to the issue that industrialists, at a recent meeting, expressed apprehension that VAT would turn out to be “tsunami”. A government official, who was there to clear such misapprehensions, interestingly did not disagree with them. All he said was relief measures come only after tsunami, you will have to wait and watch!

Appropriate words?

There is another aspect to the benevolence of city residents, who did and still are contributing generously to help tsunami tragedy victims. Several schools, clubs and organisations are organising functions, the sale proceeds of which, they say, will go towards Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the tragedy victims. However, what is weird are the written invites sent for these functions. Majority such invites read, : “Extremely moved by the tsunami tragedy we are organising a cultural show/ a fun and frolic day .. etc”. One wonders if appropriate words are too hard to find!

Whither festivals

It has become a fashion in the city to celebrate a festival at any date suited to the organiser than the original date fixed for the purpose. Media savvy schools, colleges, clubs and other organisations start celebrating the festival a week in advance and some even organise it a week or 10 days later. One of the reasons put forward is that on the stipulated day of the festival, there is not much space with media for covering the event. Secondly, the organisers do so on the argument that on the day of the festival it is a holiday or everybody is busy celebrating it with one’s family or friends.

Fishy investigation

The cops are increasingly becoming media savvy. They do not hesitate to call a press conference at even the arrest of petty thieves or at the solution of a minor crime. In such circumstances, it was quite shocking that no senior official was inclined to brief the media at the time of the murder or when some of the accused were arrested in the brutal double murder case of a couple on caste lines. The case, which is being followed by international media that was terming it an honour killing story, was being briefed by just the SHO of a police station. These rank officials are rarely allowed to host conferences in petty cases where seniors hog the limelight. It was thus strange why the seniors kept away from the case?

Publicity hungry

While press releases assume important role in imparting information about events et al, several organisations, including commercial ones, have begun using them as means to attaining publicity. Not only does one often comes across press notes on commercial activities like immigration seminars- a routine affair, infact a part of the functioning of an immigration consultancy firm, there are people who keep forwarding their opinions on issues- mostly national and international- quite frequently. Despite being told that such views would rather be sent as letters by readers, there are people keep troubling journalists with phone calls asking them to carry these press notes.




Mission team to probe demolition of temple in HP
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Vishwa Guru Ravi Dass Mission has constituted a five-member panel to probe the demolition of a Ravi Dass temple at Santokh Garh in Himachal Pradesh. The panel will meet the affected people and the higher authorities concerned to ascertain whether the demolition was the result of a conspiracy hatched by higher caste people against the Dalits in the Himachal village.

Stating this in a joint press note here today, the mission president, Mr Shiv Ram Saroye, and Chairman, Mr Jaswant Kataria, said that a meeting of the mission was held at Ahata Sher Jung here yesterday to discuss the issue. The meeting observed that excesses against the Dalits and their religious places of worship were on the rise all over the country. The Santokh Garh incident was just an example of this unhealthy trend. The Dalit leaders said that this Guru Ravi Dass temple had been in existence for the past 55 years at Santokh Garh but the same was demolished by the state government without serving any notice and the land was handed over to people belonging to a higher caste.

They said that this act of the Himachal government had deeply hurt the sentiments of Dalits. Police excesses on 73 Dalit youths, 22 women and a former legislator, who opposed the demolition, amounted to the violation of human rights.

The Dalit leaders further stated that the mission had informed all Dalit organisations in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh about the “excesses” being committed by the Himachal Pradesh Government against the Dalits. The mission would take up the matter with the Central Government and also submit memoranda to the state governments of both Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in this regard, added the Dalit leaders. 



BJP flays govt for power crisis
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Trade and Industrial Cell of the Bharatiya Janata Party, while flaying the Punjab Government for its failure to deal with the acute scarcity of power in the state, has decided to hold a demonstration near Preet Palace cinema here on January 28. The party would further intensify the agitation with the help of industrialists and traders if no remedial action was initiated by the government.

A meeting of the BJP front organisation was held here today to take stock of the grave crisis facing the industry, as well as trade due to drastic power cuts, coupled with imposition of service tax on job work like heat treatment, nickel and zink plating and other ancillary services to the cycle industry.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Satpal Gosain, former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha said the promises made to the electorate by the Congress, both during the assembly and Lok Sabha elections, were turning out to be a fraud. The government had failed miserably in providing adequate power to the industry, so much so that the Punjab State Electricity Board did not bother to inform the industry about the power cuts.

Mr Lalit Sharma, who presided over, remarked that erratic power supply had proven to be the last straw in killing the industry which was already going through rough times due to steel prices and irrational levies.



PSEB employee unions to hold agitation
Our Correspondent

Amloh, January 25
A joint meeting of various Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees unions held here today decided to organise an agitation in two phases. In the first stage, a dharna in front of the office of Chief Engineer, Ludhiana, would be organised on February 3 and in the second stage, a dharna would be held at Chandigarh on February 7.

This would stated in a press note by Mr Prithi Pal Singh, circle president of the Technical Services Union (TSU), here today. It was stated in the press note that the Chief Engineer, Ludhiana, had allotted the work of meter readers and distribution of consumer bills on contract in private hands whereas the work was earlier done by regular employees of the board. This step was the beginning of retrenchment of regular staff shown as surplus.

On February 7 employees of electricity boards from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal would also participate in a protest against the decision of the Punjab Government to privatise the PSEB.

Meeting: A meeting of heads of various departments was held in the office of Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM, Amloh, today to review the preparations for the celebration of the Republic Day at the new Grain Market here, Mr Hans would unfurl the National Flag. Needy women would be given sewing machines and woollens.



Pensioners seek commutation after 12 years
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
The Northern Railway Pensioners Welfare Association in its communication to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently have urged him to accept their pending demands as recommended by the fifth Pay Commission, which includes commutation of pension after 12 years, 1 per cent increase in pension after 33 years of service and 60 per cent family pension for those retired before 1996.

Mr K.L. Chitkara, general secretary of the association, said it was unfortunate that previous governments had taken a very little interest for pensioners and senior citizens. The members said that the pension be made free of income tax. Mr Chitkara said that the setting up of a new pay commission was the need of the hour as over 12 years had lapsed since the last pay commission was formed and the dearness allowance had crossed more than 50 per cent.

Mr Sher Singh, president of the association, urged the government to provide free medical facilities to senior citizens. For fixed deposits, the pensioners should be provided with 3 per cent extra interest by the banks. “There should be 5 per cent increase in our pension at the age of 65 years, 10 per cent at the age of 75 years and 15 per cent increase in pension at the age of 80 years”, said Mr Sher Singh.

The pensioners also requested that at least Rs 1,000 per month pension should be given to senior citizens who had no other source of income.



Pensioners to meet on Jan 30
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
To prepare a memorandum containing major demands to be submitted to the Punjab Government for consideration and inclusion in the Budget of 2005-2006, the Government Pensioners Association has convened a meeting of its activists on January 30 at 10.45 a.m. in Arya College for Women, Ludhiana.

The pensioners demands include setting up of a new Punjab pay commission, raise in medical allowance and house rent allowance for pensioners as promised in the Congress manifesto during the last Assembly poll, allocation of adequate funds for speedy reimbursement of medical bills, restoration of house rent allowance facility for both husband and wife employees and higher grades for school teachers possessing higher qualifications. Also, funds will be collected for tsunami victims. 



2 extortionists held
Our Correspondent

Khanna, January 25
The Khanna police arrested two extortionists here on Sunday. The accused had allegedly threatened two leading doctors of dire consequences using the letter head of “Manav Commando Force.” The accused were identified as Balwinder Singh, a resident of Jagadhri workshop in Haryana, and Navneet Singh, a resident of Khanna Khurd.

At a press conference, the police told mediapersons that Dr Amarbir Singh of Jeevanjot Hospital, Peerkhana road, Khanna, and Dr Ranjit Khanna of Khanna Nursing Home had lodged a complaint with the police that a person was threatening them on phone of dire consequences. The caller identified himself as a member of the Manav Commando Force.

On January 15, Dr Amarbir Singh received the threatening letter. The police said a trap was laid and the accused were caught red handed at a temple on the military ground on the Amloh road, while accepting extortion money, which contained dummy currency notes of Rs 1 lakh. Some letter pads of the Manav Commando Force and a motorcycle were also seized. The police said that the accused confessed that they had also threatened some other persons of the town in the past. A case under Sections 385, 386, 387, IPC, was registered.



Accused flees from police custody
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, January 25
A person, accused in a criminal case, allegedly fled from the police custody here today.
Buta Singh, accused in a criminal case, came to surrender in the court of Mr B. S. Deol, Judicial Magistrate. He was issued a non-bailable warrant. However, after the Naib Court took him into custody, he managed to flee. A case under Section 224 of the IPC has been registered at the local police station.



Traders observe ‘black day’ against VAT
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 25
In response to a call given by the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal (PPBM), traders and shopkeepers observed a ‘black day’ against the proposed introduction of value added tax (VAT) from April, 2005. Members of trade and industry wore black badges and put black flags atop their establishments to express their resentment against what they described as arbitrary and repressive mode of taxation.

Later, led by functionaries of the Beopar Mandal, including Mr Kasturi Lal Mittal, president, Baba Ajit Singh, chairman, and Mr Mohinder Aggarwal, general secretary of the district unit, the traders submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Manmohan Singh, demanding rationalisation of the state VAT Act and removal of draconian penal provisions before implementation of the new tax regime.

Through the memorandum, the Beopar Mandal called upon the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to review the VAT Act in the larger interest of trade and industry. The mandal functionaries remarked that if the government went ahead with the legislation in its present form, without giving effect to the modifications as demanded by the representative bodies of trade, the introduction of VAT would have adverse impact on the state economy.

It pointed out under the proposed VAT system, a staggering number of 1,180 items would shift to 12.5 per cent slab of tax from 8.8 per cent whereas another 40 exempted items will attract 4 per cent tax, which indirectly meant that prices of all these items would shoot up. Moreover, there would be multiple taxation and traders would have to pay tax after each value addition to the product.

The Beopar Mandal demanded that if the government wanted to give effect to VAT, it should implement National VAT, as had been promised in the common minimum programme (CMP) of the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre. “The VAT regime should take adequate care of other irritants such as denial of exemption to eligible units, abolition of other taxes and levies, grant of sweeping powers of seizure of stocks and cancellation of registration certificates to excise and taxation officials and other procedural problems.”

The mandal activists reiterated their stand that without the demanded modifications and removal of draconian and repressive provisions, the trade and industry would not accept the state VAT. They also expressed their opposition to multiple taxation which would result from VAT and demanded withdrawal of all other state taxes and octroi before the new taxation regime could take effect. 



Biz Clips

Small tractors imported from China were launched by Amar Tractors here on Tuesday. The 24 hp tractor is priced at Rs 1,25,000 and shall cater to small farmers, said Mr Jagdev Singh, director, Amar Tractors, during the launching ceremony. He said these tractors were particularly meant for those farmers who were not able to afford tractors due to their high cost. Moreover, they will also reduce fuel costs by 20-25 per cent, he said. — TNS

LG gifts: LG conducted the second weekly bumper draw of LG Upharon ki Lohri, a promotion campaign started by the company, here on Monday. The winners were given prizes including mobile phones, refrigerators and washing machines. The third draw will be held on January 31 at Jalandhar, informed a company press note. — TNS


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