L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Police to exhume girl’s body
Her father had ‘forced’ her into prostitution
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
The shocking Baby murder case is hogging limelight again as a special team from the crime branch of the Punjab Police has decided to exhume the body of a girl, Baby, who had died allegedly during her third abortion. She had been ‘forced’ into prostitution by her father and flesh trade mafia.

The decision of the crime branch has brought much relief to an area resident, Mr Varinder Kumar Koffi, who has been waging a lone battle for the deceased girl ever since she died under controversial circumstances in November last year.

The complainant, Mr Varinder Kumar Koffi, had moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) regarding the activities of the flesh trade mafia and the inhuman treatment meted out to the deceased girl.

The crime branch sources said the inquest proceedings would be conducted under the supervision of a judicial officer and later the post-mortem examination of the body would be conducted by a panel of doctors at civil hospital here.

A team from the Salem Tabri police station had also been directed to assist the crime branch officials.

The shocking case had been exposed by the complainant through letters written to the PSHRC, National Commission for Women and senior state police officers.

The PSHRC had taken cognizance of the case and directed the ADGP (Crime) to get an inquiry conducted from a police officer and submit a report within two months to the commission.

The complainant had alleged that the 21-year-old girl was forced into prostitution by her father, Sharif Masih, an auto-rickshaw driver.

He further alleged that she had become pregnant thrice and when she was undergoing abortion for the third time, she died.

He claimed that he was the president of Naujawan Sabha of the area and the victim girl had met him on November 13, 2004, seeking his help to save her from exploitation.

She had told him that she was unmarried and pregnant but her family wanted her to undergo an abortion although she wanted to give birth to the child.

She had revealed that she was being raped by a friend of her father and the latter had threatened him of dire consequences if she told anyone about the same, the complainant said.

The next day she visited him again and told him that her family had come to know about her meeting with him and feared she would be killed. She left soon on November 14. There was no news about her for next two days.

Finally, on November 16, 2005, her brother, Darshan Masih came to the complainant at 9 pm and told him that she had been murdered.

Mr Koffi claimed that the relatives of the girl, including her parents, blamed each other for her death when he went to their house.

He claimed that the girl had left her father's house some months ago and started living with her brother, Darshan, who was living separately in the same colony. 



Rally against high toll rates
Tribune News Service

Doraha, February 25
Hundreds of persons staged a rally under the banner of a joint committee of five political parties near the toll barrier here today in protest against the high toll rates at the Doraha, Shambhu and Karnal barriers, proposed privatisation of the PSEB and the proposed withdrawal of foodgrain purchase operation by the FCI.

The committee later resolved to submit a memorandum signed by 50 MPs and one lakh persons from Punjab to the Prime Minister, pressing for the removal of the tax barrier or relaxing the tax structure and other demands.

Activists of the CPM, CPI, Lok Bhalai Party, Akali Dal (Ravi Inder) and Akali Dal (Longowal), besides farmers and transporters from all over Punjab attended the rally.

The rally was addressed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Balwant Singh, state secretary, CPM, Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary, CPI, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Akali Dal (Longowal) president and Mr Charan Singh Lohara, Chairman, Punjab State Goods Transport Association.

They said the committee would launch district-level demonstrations if the demands were not met. They said the tax being charged for the past five years at the three barriers between Ludhiana and Karnal was hitting hard the transport sector of Punjab, Haryana and J&K and the economy.

They said the "favoured" contract company was collecting huge sums of money per day from about 46,000 vehicles and pocketing crores as profit per year while neglecting its obligation to maintain the highway.

They said transporters were heavily burdened with the three-tier tax structure, besides the road tax and the cess on diesel and petrol.

It was demanded that both ways toll rates of Rs 1,800 per extra heavy vehicle, Rs 880 per heavy vehicle, Rs 50 per semi-heavy vehicle and Rs 250 per taxi/private vehicle be reduced to rs 50 and Rs 20 per heavy and light vehicle, respectively, and the contract company be made accountable for its income and expenditure.

It was further demanded that a time frame should be fixed for realising the toll instead of making it perpetual.

The second resolution criticised the proposed privatisation of the PSEB, saying that it would monopolise the power operations and make electricity costlier. It was demanded that instead of privatisation, the government should streamline the PSEB's working and its operations.

The proposed move to withdraw the FCI from foodgrain purchases was also viewed with concern. It was felt that leaving the foodgrain regime at the mercy of private traders/hoarders would not only defeat the purpose of the minimum support price system, but also worsen the economic condition of farmers.



Fire: Sigma hospital indicted for flouting
building bylaws

DC orders action against erring officials
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
A judicial probe by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ludhiana (East), into the incident of fire that broke out at Sigma Hospital in January has found gross violations of the building bylaws by the hospital.

It has also recommended strict action against the Municipal Corporation officials who allowed the violations thus imperilling lives of many people.

On the basis of the inquiry report, Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana today directed the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana, to take necessary steps to bring the building of Sigma Hospital in conformity with the building bylaws.

Mr Verma also asked the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, to take action against the officers concerned who did not act against the violations.

The inquiry report upheld a detailed report published in the Tribune which had exposed the violation of building bylaws and lack of fire-fighting measures. The inquiry was ordered on the basis of the report.

Giving details, Mr Verma said Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ludhiana (East), had stated in his report that the hospital owners had covered 100 per cent of the ground area, whereas only 50 per cent of the ground area could have been covered as per the laws.

As per the building bylaws, 20 per cent of the parking space is to be left in front of the building and 30 per cent at the back. But in this case, no parking space had been left as per the laws.

Further, the building could have been raised only up to the height of 38'-6", whereas the actual building was more than 40'.

A large number of patients and doctors and attendants were trapped in the building on that fateful day.

The fire broke out in the ground floor but people could not find any way out. Fortunately, there was no casualty.



Youth stages his own kidnapping
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
A youth staged his own kidnapping to implicate another youth who used to tease his sister in the past. The DSP, Mr R.K. Bakshi, and Inspector Jogi Rah claimed in a press conference today that 18-year-old Gur Rajwant Singh, a Class XII student, had gone missing late last night. He usually returned at about 9 pm to his house after tuitions.

However, the family received an SMS from his mobile saying that he had been kidnapped.

The SMS kept coming today also. The last one received in the late afternoon said he was released by the kidnappers who had beat him up and abandoned him near Payal. The family had informed the police last night.

The police was suspicious about the case from the first instant. The youth buckled during questioning and admitted that he had cooked up the story. The youth named by him was a former friend who had allegedly misbehaved with his sister.

The police is contemplating action against the youth for misleading the police but no case has been registered so far.



Two fake Executive Magistrates nabbed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
A team of the district administration officials assisted by the police today arrested two persons, including a BA Final Year student, who claimed to be the Executive Magistrates and were attesting affidavits and other documents in the district courts complex.

The accused persons, Harminder Singh of Shaheed Bhagat SIngh Nagar, and Gurpreet Singh(student) of Basti Jodhewal, were caught red-handed by a team led by Tehsildar Gursewak Singh.

Harminder Singh earlier worked as a munshi with a local advocate. The college student was allegedly a drug addict.

The officials had learnt that some persons were running a racket from the court complex and cheating people.

The police later recovered fake stamps, identity cards and several other incriminating documents from the possession of the accused.

The police also recovered a fake identity card in which Harminder Singh claimed himself to be a clerk in the Mini-Secretariat.

A motorcycle, 2 mobile phones and Rs 15,000 were also allegedly recovered from the accused.



BJP seeks repoll in Ajnala
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
Leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its youth wing, the Bharatiya Yuva Janata Morcha, today demanded a repoll in the Ajnala Assembly segment, alleging that the state government committed “murder of democracy” there.

Addressing a press conference here today senior BJP leaders, including Lala Lajpat Rai, Mr Satpal Gosain, Mr Anil Sarin, Dr Subash Verma and the BJYM national secretary, Mr Anil Jha, and the district president, Mr Sanjay Kapoor, claimed that the state machinery was misused in Ajnala to favour the Congress.

The BJP leaders claimed that the state government had been a “total failure” as it had resorted to vindictiveness. They said the BJP and the Yuva Morcha would organise a protest “pol khol” rally to expose the failures of the government in Ludhiana on February 27.

The rally will be addressed by the Yuva Morcha president, Mr Dharmender Pradhan and Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, Mr Jaskaran Meena and Mr Avinash Rai among others.

They said Mr Vinod Khanna, who was suffering from fever for past few days, might also join the rally.

The BJP leaders said since February 27 would mark the completion of three years of the Congress government in the state, the party would expose its various claims on development and other issues.

They alleged that the corruption was at its peak. Moreover, they said, the lawlessness had crossed all limits, as kidnapping for ransom had become a routine of the day.

They claimed that while earlier it was only the criminals and anti-social elements would take law into their hands, now the people in uniform were doing the same as, according to them, was witnessed in Ajnala.

They said even in Ludhiana BJP workers were manhandled by the police. The state had been turned into a police cantonment, they alleged.



Ex-serviceman alleges victimisation
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
Mr Suresh Thakur, an ex-serviceman working as a supervisor in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), today alleged that he was being victimised by the Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation for speaking against the "exploitation" of ex-servicemen and bringing it to the notice of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Mr Thakur, who retired as an honorary captain from the Army, said he had written to the Chief Minister against the alleged exploitation of ex-servicemen. He said the Chief Minister had taken note of his complaint and had written to the corporation in this regard.

He alleged that the ex-servicemen working with different agencies through the corporation were not being given full pay as was claimed against their names.

He said after the issue came to the notice of the Chief Minister he was paid the full amount but soon his monthly salary was again less than what it should have been. He said he was also transferred from Ludhiana to Delhi.

However, Col M.S. Kauchhur, General Manager(Personnel), said there was no reason for anybody to feel victimised. He said the transfer was done in the administrative interest. He said the ex-servicemen were being paid full salary and some amount was deducted as a routine like the EPF and other allowances.

He pointed out that the Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation was looking after the interests of the ex-servicemen in the state and nobody was being exploited. He said if anybody had any grievance, it could be sorted out.



Bank employees protest against govt policies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
Bank employees, including officers, would observe a nationwide strike on March 22 in protest against the governments stand on the reduction of government capital in banks, merger of public sector banks, entry of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and several other issues.

On a call given by the All-India Bank Employees Federation and as a part of this nationwide campaign against the government’s stand, members of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation today held a protest demonstration in front of the State Bank of Patiala regional office in Millar Ganj here in this regard.

Addressing the rally, Mr Naresh Gaur, secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Federation, said the government was pressurising the banks to bring down their capital up to 51 per cent and was to encourage private investment. “Since banks are responsible for public money the control and ownership should lie with the government alone,” said Mr Gaur.

Condemning the proposal to merge the existing 27 public sector banks, the federation said the proposal was made so as to make our banks international in character. “There is no need to make our banks international in character as no international bank has any social responsibility and by doing so we would be deviating from our noble ideals that necessitated nationalisation of banks,” the association said.

Mr Gaur said such mergers would also result in closure of thousands of branches rendering many jobless.

“The real intention behind these mergers, it appears, is hiding the increasing NPAs,” the federation said. The leaders also criticised hike in FDI upto 74 per cent.

Mr Gaur informed that AIBEA has decided to organise a morcha to Parliament during the budget session on March 11 in which over 50,000 bank employees from across the country would participate.

Among others who addressed the rally were Mr Sudesh Kumar, chairman, PBEF and Mr Ashok Awasthy, president, Punjab Bank Employees Federation.



‘Special purpose vehicle’ to curb pollution
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 25
The Ludhiana Hand Tools and Forging Envirocare Pvt Ltd — called 'Special Purpose Vehicle' (SPV) in technical parlance — has been formed by the hand tools and forging industry to generate awareness regarding Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) so as to control pollution.

Under CDM, manufacturing units could earn foreign exchange by decreasing carbon dioxide emission in the environment, said Mr S.C.Ralhan, Director, Ludhiana Hand Tools and Forging Envirocare.

He said the SPV, which was approved by the government of India in January this year, would issue a certificate which can be sold in the international market.

An enterprise could have energy audits done from the SPV and any reduction in carbon dioxide by the unit could be encashed in dollars. The prevailing rate was $ 5 - 6 per tonne of carbon dioxide, said Mr Ralhan.

He said as per a survey by the Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu (DTT ) on 300 forging units, the scope of saving of carbon dioxide in Hand Tools and the Forging Industry was to the tune of Rs 30 crore, which would come to the state in the form foreign currency.

With the KYOTO pact having been signed, this amount could go up to 100 crores in foreign currency as the rate of carbon dioxide was likely to go up to $ 25, he said.

"It is worth mentioning here that GAIL was planning to lay natural gas pipelines upto Nangal via Ludhiana. In that case the benefit to the forging and hand tool industry would be doubled. The SPV has already begun discussions with GAIL regarding this," Mr Ralhan said.

He said this would also make the forging industry much more competitive and once GAIL lays down its natural gas pipelines in the city, there would be tremendous improvement in terms of awareness about pollution free environment among industry and adherence to norms that lead towards the same, he said. 



Citizens exhorted to file IT returns honestly
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 25
The Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, Mr S.J.S. Pall, has said simplification of tax laws, persuasive and tax-friendly policies of the Income Tax Department had proved fruitful and yielded positive results which were indicated by an increasing number of assesses all over the country.

Addressing a felicitation function organised by the Ludhiana Citizen Council here on Thursday evening, Mr Pall fervently asked all those falling within the ambit of income tax to file their returns honestly and fearlessly.

He remarked that the high living standards of the people in this mega city and ostentatious display of wealth on marriages and other functions were visible signs of prosperity and progress.

However, the city residents at the same time ought to file their income tax returns and pay taxes honestly as a part of their duty towards the nation, he said.

The CCIT gave an assurance that tax-payers as well as members of the bar would be treated with dignity and shown due respect.

In particular, the bar members would be considered just like officers of the court and they would not have to face any problems or difficulty in the performance of their duties.

Mr Darshan Arora, chairman, and Mr Ashok Junjea, secretary-general of the council, expressed the view that rates of income tax in the country were very high as compared to other progressive countries of the world and there was a dire need to bring them down to 20 per cent.

They claimed that whenever tax rates were reduced, the revenue and number of tax-payers had gone up.

Other speakers, including Mr Kulbir Singh Kelley (Jodhka) and Mr Ramesh Banda, suggested that the government should come out with a voluntary disclosure scheme so that the undeclared income could come in the mainstream and utilised for development works.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sibia, Chairman, Ludhiana Improvement Trust, was also honoured on the occasion.

Dr Sunaina Jodhka, Mr M.S. Minhas, Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, Mr Sudhir Sehgal, Mr Jasbir Singh Bindra and Mr Balwinder Goel, president , district bar association, were also present at the function. 



Workers hold dharna

Ludhiana, February 25
Protesting against the alleged forcible retrenchment and implication of workers in false cases, workers of Farm Parts Company, Focal Point, held a dharna in front of the Circuit House today and submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Vijay Narayan of the Moulder and Steel Workers Union said the workers had been staging a dharna but instead of resolving the issues some workers had been implicated in false cases. TNS


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