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NRI groom nabbed for marriage fraud
Our Correspondent

File pictures of Manjit Singh Dhindsa and his first wife Gurmel Kaur
File pictures of Manjit Singh Dhindsa and his first wife Gurmel Kaur.

Mandi Ahmedgarh,
March 17
The local police has nabbed four members of a gang, that had been duping innocent persons on the pretext of getting young girls married to NRIs. The main accused, an NRI in his 50s, had married a teenaged girl from Amritsar after allegedly deserting his two wives.

Mr Mukand Singh Mahli, Deputy Superintendent of Police here, said Manjit Singh Dhindsa, who belonged to Choondan village near Amargarh and was now a resident of Turlock in California, USA, was nabbed along with his three accomplices while he was trying to escape after being booked under Sections 494, 495, 498 A, 420, 467, 468, 406 and 120B of the IPC.

Mr Harjit Singh of Akbarpur Chhanna had complained to the SSP Sangrur, Mr H.S. Chahal, that Manjit Singh, who was already married to his sister, Gurmel Kaur, alias Sukhwinder Kaur, was now going to marry a teenaged girl from Amritsar illegally.

On receiving directions from the SSP, Mr Mahli constituted a special investigating team led by Mr Harjinder Singh, SHO, Sadar, and Mr Harinder Singh, SHO, city. But, the accused managed to escape from the venue of marriage in Amritsar after the marriage was solemnised.

Preliminary investigations by the team revealed that parents of Gurmel Kaur had married her to Manjit Singh in 1989. Though she was a postgraduate, the groom was only a matriculate. The bride’s family had spent a huge amount on her marriage. But the family was shocked to learn that Manjit Singh had been living in the USA as Malkiat Singh and was already married to Ms Jaswinder Dass. As there was nobody else to look after Gurmel Kaur in the USA the accused started harassing her physically and mentally and also threatened her of dire consequences if she failed to get money from her parents. She had lodged complaints with TPD, a law enforcing agency in the USA.

“Ignoring the behaviour of Manjit Singh we kept on fulfilling his demands as we wanted to see our sister happy, who had been living a pitiable life. She had to do odd jobs to support her 19-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter,” Mr Harjit Singh told the police.

Had the family not received information from a source, the accused would have gone scot-free after marrying Baljit Kaur, 19-year-old daughter of Jagdish Singh of Mehmoodpura village under Sadar Police Station, Amritsar, at Wadala Farms in Amritsar on Monday.

A police party nabbed Manjit Singh along with Sohan Singh and Rana (his paternal uncles) and Bhupinder Singh Bhola, a middleman, at a naka and seized some evidence substantiating that marriage had been solemnised at the said place.

The police has also recovered documents, including the ration card of the family at Choondan village proving that Gurmel Kaur was wife of the accused.

Further investigations revealed that Sohan Singh and Rana had posed as father and maternal uncle of the groom and the “barat” had started for Amritsar from Mohali instead of from the native village of the groom.

These persons had also facilitated the marriage of 55-year-old elder brother of the main accused with a 22-year-old girl of Bhogiwal village four years earlier.



Confusion persists over VAT implementation
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Even as the deadline for implementation of Value Added Taxation (VAT) is less than two-weeks ahead, confusion prevails on various issues pertaining to the new system. The confusion exists not only among industrialists but even among chartered accountants and practitioners.

“Confusion prevails over a host of issues — from getting Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) to implementation and preparing books of accounts as per the new system,” said Mr Jatinder Khurana, a tax consultant.

While the government says those who are paying sales tax would automatically get registered after the fill in fact sheets, many have still not received their identification numbers. “If the government intends to implement the new taxation system from April onwards, identification numbers should have been issued by now. A large number of people are yet to receive them,” Mr Khurana said, adding, “it is only after getting TIN that one can get new bill books printed.”

Implementing the system, it appears would not be as simple as is being projected, for confusion prevails not merely among traders and tax practitioners, but even among implementing agencies.

A host of issues are yet to be clarified, say industrialists and taxation experts. Industrialists and traders have concerns over input credit, which they say would make the industry lose 25 per cent as they have paid 10 per cent tax on stocks whereas the maximum ceiling for input credit would be 75 per cent and no input credit would be provided on purchases prior to April 1, 2004.

While protests have already been there on harsh penal measures, industry representatives have also recommended various changes to be made in the Punjab VAT draft.

“The government should conduct awareness campaigns. Merely issuing advertisements in selected newspapers would not be of much use to people who are highly confused,” said Mr Vishal Garg, treasurer, Ludhiana chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India.

Meanwhile, various software companies have come out with specialised software to deal with accounting and record keeping problems in the new VAT regime.



Tax Bar body strike today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Protesting against the Punjab VAT draft, the Punjab Tax Bar Association (PTBA) has called upon all the sales tax and other taxation bar associations concerned across the state to observe a one-day strike on March 18.

Condemning the draft and expressing solidarity with industry on the issue of penal measures in the VAT draft, the association demanded the “harsh provisions” to be relaxed and said there should be no audit provision.

“Audit is already done under the provisions of the Income Tax Act,” the association members said on Wednesday. They said the white paper issued by the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers had nowhere mentioned that audit report or certificate was required from a chartered accountant.

Mr Sudarshan Kapoor, president, and Mr Lalit Takyar, secretary general of the association, said audit provisions under Punjab VAT would amount to a double audit system for traders and industrialists.

“If audit provisions are required at all, then advocates and income tax practitioners should also be allowed to issue audit report or certificate alongwith chartered accountants,” they said. Mr B.R. Kaushal, vice-president, Mr Raj Pal Gupta, finance-secretary and Mr Ashok Juneja, chairman of PTBA, said there were no audit provisions in states like Haryana and in the case of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and other states sales tax practitioners, including CAs, had been allowed for audit certification. They demanded that these provisions should be implemented in the case of Punjab as well.

PTBA said though in white paper the empowered committee had said the penal provisions in the VAT Bill should not be more stringent than those in the existing Sales Tax Act, the state government had inserted and made penal provisions more stringent and harsh as a result of which trade and industry would be affected.



30 years on, she waits for husband’s return from Pak
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
Thirty years is a long wait. Still longer when nothing is certain as to when it will end. For Ajit Kaur, the years are getting longer as she keeps on waiting for her husband Ajmer Singh, who went missing in 1974. It was only in 1984 that she got to know that Ajmer Singh was lodged in the Central Jail, Lahore, where he was serving a life term. That is all she knew about her husband.

In 1999 she was told that Ajit Singh had completed his life term in jail. He was to be released the same year. But due to the Kargil war, the relationship between India and Pakistan touched its nadir. His release was postponed. Ajit Kaur was again disappointed. However, now she feels hopeful after the Pakistan President, Gen Pervez Musharaf, announced that hundreds of Indian prisoners lodged in Pakistani jails would be released.

Ajit Kaur had two daughters and a son when her husband went missing. “If somebody dies you grieve for some time and then you try to overcome the grief...but when somebody goes missing and nothing is known about him, you have hope which sustains you, but at the same time it keeps on killing you with its uncertainty”, she said, while talking to The Tribune at her Model Town house here today. She kept on waiting and continues to wait till know and hopes the wait will end soon.

While waiting endlessly for her husband was a tragedy, she had to take care of her three small children who were not even into their teens at that time. But she carried on with the sole hope of seeing her husband some day. She has got her two daughters and a son married. “Everybody except me is happily settled”, she says, adding, “even his (Ajmer Singh’s) return may not help much”.

Her children do not seem to have much idea about their father as they were too young when he went missing. “But we always missed him. “says Rashveer Kaur, while desperately waiting for her father to return home. “We lived like orphans although we knew our father was very much alive”, she pointed out. But, she adds that everything would be compensated for once her father returns home. “I too will feel handsomely compensated”, Ajit Kaur said.



Passing Thru

Ashish Kaul
Ashish Kaul, vice-president, Zee Network

What is the idea of starting a programme like “Business Baazigar”?

The role of television in the past 13-14 years has undergone a sea change. While the initial phase saw television as a mode of entertainment only, in the present phase, we see TV as more interactive. Launch of a reality show like “Business Baazigar” is an endeavour to make television change the lives of the people.

And how would that happen?

We are inviting unique business ideas and after screening 50 ideas for one series, we will judge the participants’ capabilities to run a business. Following that, a business proposal will be selected and the one who emerges as the winner will get the funds to implement his business ideas.

The prime slot for entertainment programmes on television is still captured by emotional never-ending sops, which are condemned by a section of people. What do you say about that?

Every channel has its own character and so does Zee. It is not possible for a channel to reserve a certain per- centage for say comedy shows or for emotional dramas. The only rule that works in this selection is whether the programme will be liked or not. I don’t see anything wrong in emotional dramas if people like them.

— Shveta Pathak



Agitation by BSNL workers enters third day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 17
The indefinite dharna, chain hunger strike and work-to-rule agitation by the executives of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) here entered the third day with the authorities continuing to be indifferent towards the agitating employees.

Senior leaders of United Forum of BSNL, including Mr Inderjit Singh, chairman of joint action committee, Mr Sanjeev Gupta, district secretary, Sanchar Nigam Executives Association (I) and Mr R.K. Puri, convener of the BSNL Executive Association, while addressing the dharna, castigated the vindictive attitude of the BSNL management.

They also threatened to further intensify the agitation which could jeopardise the telecom services.

The speakers were critical of the negative and anti-worker policies of the authorities, whom they charged with dilly-dallying in implementation of already accepted demands. They said the management had forced the executives towards the path of agitation even when a negotiated settlement was possible.

The demands put forth by the unions included implementation of non-post based times bound promotion, provision of 100 per cent weightage of service rendered in telecom department, including those in adhoc, ACP and lateral grades, fixation of date of promotions from October 2000 onwards or when the officers completed the specified eligibility period, an end to parallel post based promotion, stoppage of recruitment of management trainees, implementation of revised IDA pay scales of JTOs, SDEs of civil, electrical, architecture, TFs, PAs, PSs, assistants, and other categories to be made effective from October 2000 and one time placement in the next higher grade for JTOs and SDEs of telecom.



Class IV employees threaten to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 17
While holding a dharna and demonstration against the anti-employees policies of the state government at Mini Secretariat here today, activists of the Class IV Government Employees Union threatened to further intensify the agitation if the government failed to conceded the pending demands.

The union functionaries, demanding an immediate end to all policies, detrimental to the interests of the employees and fulfilment of all poll promises made by the Congress, announced that the employees would hold a token dharna in Chandigarh on March 22, which would be followed by a state-level demonstration, also in the state capital on March 29.

The activists of the union which included Mr Lal Chand, district president, Mr Bhanwar Singh, chairman, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Ashok Kumar Mattu, both senior vice presidents, and Mr Bhagwan Singh Bhangu, general secretary, lamented that the government had taken a turn around on poll promises of granting 4-9-14 years time scale promotion, payment of bonus for the past five years, regularisation of services of all ad hoc and work-charge employees, filling all vacant posts and putting an end to the policy of privatisation of government departments.



Labourer held for killing wife’s paramour
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 17
The local police assisted the UP police in the arrest of a migrant labourer who had allegedly killed the paramour of his wife in UP on February 13 and had been living in disguise since then. A team of the UP police took him to Dhinga police station in Sarwasa district where a murder case had been registered against him.

Mr Mukand Singh Mahli, Deputy Superintendent of police at Malerkotla said a police party, led by Mr Harinder Singh, SHO (City), had rounded up some strangers on Wednesday. During questioning, a labourer, later identified as Jagat Ram of Dhinga in UP admitted that he had killed the paramour of his wife in UP last month.

The local police informed the authorities at Dhinga police station in Sarwasa district of UP. A police party led by Mr Dhruv Kumar arrived here and took the labourer with it.

Referring to a complaint made by a relative of the deceased, Mr Dhruv Kumar said Jagat Ram (37) had allegedly murdered Ram Sumudh Yadav, one of his friends, on February 13. The suspect had been working at various towns in Punjab, including Sirhind, Fatehgarh, Khanna, Gobindgarh, Malerkotla, Dhuri and here for over 20 years. Yadav started visiting his house at Bhingi in his absence and allegedly developed illicit relations with his wife Kurua.

They even started living together later. When Jagat Ram’s efforts to stop Yadav from disrupting his family failed, he along with associates conspired to eliminate him.

The UP police said the suspect had chopped off the head of the deceased while he was asleep on February 13. Before the police could arrest him, he came to punjab where he had been working for long. He stayed at Sirhind, Fatehgarh Sahib Ludhiana and here. 



Woman injured in robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
In a daylight robbery attempt an unidentified armed person tried to enter the house of an industrialist in Model Town Extension here today but fled after stabbing the industrialist’s wife twice as she had raised an alarm.

The injured woman, Bindu Kansal, 32, was rushed to the DMC by neighbours. She had sustained stab injuries in her abdomen and arms. Her husband Sanjeev Kansal is a cycle parts manufacturer.



Theft in house

Jagraon, March 17
The house of Dal Singh, a resident of Dasmesh Nagar Mandi, Mullanpur, was burgled. At the time of theft nobody was at home. The thieves took away Rs 20,000 in cash and jewellery items. The Dakha police has registered a case under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC. — OC



Woman’s body found
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 17
The Doraha police today recovered the body of a married woman near here.
The deceased has been identified as Kamaljit Kaur (40), wife of Sohan Singh of Bhawan Kalan and mother of two children.



Chinese ‘pichkaris’ flood market
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 17
Like other Indian festivals, Holi, too, has been hijacked by the Chinese. Chinese pichkaris of different designs, colours, shapes are vying with Indian made pichkaris but since Chinese ones are more colourful and are better designed, they are attracting more customers.

The pichkaris are available in all sorts of shapes, mainly of animals. The biggest pichkari is the one that has a tank that can hold 3 to 4 liters of water and has to be strapped to the shoulders.

The pichkaris are priced from Rs 5 to Rs 150. The usual kind of pencil shaped pichkaris are mostly of Indian make. The shopkeepers of Gurmandi and Daresi Road say that compared to last year this year the sale is yet to pick up.

In Gurmandi the sacks of gulals are being unloaded. The shopkeepers then make packets of different coloured gulal of 250 gm or half kg packs.

The gulal is of two types . The inferior quality gulal is selling for Rs 15 to 20 per kg whereas the gulal made of arraroot is skin friendly and is a little more expensive.

People who are fond of the festival have already planned how to celebrate Holi by arranging tempos, trollies, open cars in which they can carry cans of coloured water and mounds of gulal. Sakshi, a local resident, says, “I love playing Holi with my friends. We will go on our tractor spraying colour. It is fun to take out our friends from hiding who do not like to play Holi. It is the only festival that brings out the child in adults.”



Biz Clip

LAUNCHED: Mr Pankaj Mohindroo of the Indian Cellular Association has come out with “My Mobile”, an exclusive magazine on mobile phone industry. The magazine targets people in the age group of 15 to 45. — TNS


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