L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Self-styled baba accused of marrying thrice
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
A self-styled baba running a dera in Phillaur has been accused of marrying thrice, forcing the third bride into prostitution and then dumping her in an orphanage in Delhi and telling her parents that she had eloped with her lover.

Pinki, a 22-year-old widow, had married Baba Joginder Pal, alias Bhagat Ram, a resident of Hajuri Bagh in Bhattian Bet village, in April last year after he had allegedly told her mother that he was not married earlier and wanted to marry a widow. The baba runs a dera in Phillaur and had been claiming to cure some diseases with ayurvedic medicines.

In her complaint to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ludhiana, Pinki has alleged that the 40-year-old baba wanted to force her into prostitution and his second wife took her to an unidentified place at Delhi. She proved to be extra vigilant and tried to escape her clutches.

The woman allegedly got apprehensive thinking that Pinki would spill the beans and left her at an orphanage. Meanwhile, he allegedly kept telling her parents that she had eloped with her lover.

‘‘I pleaded with the attendants at the orphanage stating that I was mentally sound and my parents were alive. I requested them to let me make a call to my parents’. Earlier they did not listen to me. Later after my strong perusal, they allowed me to make a call. Then my mother and my sister-in-law went to Delhi and brought me back.’’ alleged Pinki in an affidavit.

She further alleged that after she returned to her Mujara Khurd village, the baba threatened her and her family and she had to go back with him. ‘‘Later I came to know that he was running a dera in Phillaur and was trying to exploit other girls too. So I escaped from his house on March 19 and went to my sister’s house at Phagwara,’’ said Pinki.

Pinki had married the baba in April 26, 2004, after he had asked her mother to marry her daughter off to him. Pinki’s mother, Gurdev Kaur, had visited the dera for taking some medicine for knee pain a year ago. ‘‘It was then that the baba had told me that he was an astrologer too. I took the horoscope of my widowed daughter to him. He said she was manglik and if she remarried, her second husband would also die. Later, he had sent his associates to our house and sent the proposal stating that he wanted to marry a widow and was never married, ’’ said Gurdev Kaur adding that she was too happy that somebody was willing to remarry her daughter.

Pinki alleged that it was after her marriage that she learnt that the baba had another wife, Sunita, living with him and two daughters from his first wife, Neelu. She was told that his first wife had died and his two daughters had to live with them.

Baba, however, refuted all allegations although he admitted that he had married thrice. He added that Sunita was his maid earlier and was a poor woman. He wanted to give her shelter so he married her. Later, he could not see the agony of Pinki’s mother, who was quite perturbed at her son-in-law’s death and decided to help them.

‘‘That was my only mistake that I fell for this girl. Is it bad to marry various women to help them? ’’ he asked. He claimed that Pinki’s family owed him lakhs of rupees as he had constructed their house and gave him lot of money after their marriage. Suddenly he fell on bad days and needed money and asked them for help. Since then they had been alleged to harass them and tarnish his image.

‘‘They wanted to finish me and they have already succeeded. People have stopped coming to my dera and I open it for once a week only. For the rest of the days I have to make rounds of various police stations where they have complained against me,’’ he rued.

He denied that he had forced his wife into prostitution.



Strike paralyses banking services
Tribune News Service

The State Bank of India,  Fountain Chowk, Ludhiana, wears a deserted look as the bank staff observed a strike on Tuesday
The State Bank of India (main branch), Fountain Chowk, Ludhiana, wears a deserted look as the bank staff observed a strike on Tuesday.
— Photo by I.V.

Ludhiana, March 22
Bank employees today observed a strike against government's proposal of merger of public sector banks and increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) in private banks. On a call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions, members of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation (PBEF) observed strike and also held a protest demonstration in front of Canara Bank at Bharat Nagar here.

Addressing the rally, Mr Sudesh Kumar, chairman, PBEF, said the proposal of mergers and amalgamations should not be implemented as it would shift the focus of public sector banks from development to global competition. "India still needs finance to ensure development in various fields and to fight unemployment and poverty. Social commitment would come low on priority list if mergers and amalgamations are implemented," he said.

The federation pointed out that public sector banks had Rs 16 lakh worth of deposits of the public and mergers or consolidations would result in monopolistic growth of banks which would not be in consumer's interest.

Talking about foreign direct investment (FDI) in private banks, the federation leaders said it was a dangerous move and might result in foreign investors taking over private banks. "In our existing 29 private banks, the total capital is around Rs 3,000 crore and public deposits are to the tune of Rs 3,00,000 crore. By investing a meagre amount of merely Rs 2,000 crore, foreign capital and multinational banks would be in a position to corner and control huge resources and precious savings of the public," the federation stated. The members also said an increase in FDI would make banks profit- oriented.

Expressing concern over huge amount of non performing assets (NPAs) in banks, the federation emphasised that concrete measures needed to be taken to control bad loans. "Currently NPAs stand at Rs 1,30,000 crore in banks and financial institutions. In the past seven years NPAs have only increased from Rs 47,300 crore in March 1997 to Rs 96,084 crore in March 2004 but no concrete measures have been taken so far to curb these, " said PBEF. The members said that instead of focussing on recovering loans from defaulters the focus was on doling out concessions to them in the name of one-time settlement, waivers, restructuring, provisions and write offs. The federation demanded that list of defaulters be published and also said that wilful defaulters be treated as criminal offenders and their properties should be attached.



Students take exams without roll numbers
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, March 22
With hardly a week left for the commencement of written exams of BSc (I), hundreds of students are taking their practical exams without being issued roll numbers by a Punjab University. Instead of preparing religiously for the exams, the students are visiting their colleges repeatedly seeking roll numbers.

Prof Jaipal Singh, general secretary, Punjab Teachers Association, condemned the callous attitude of the university authorities. He said that practical examination of BSc 1 had started on March 20 and students took their third practical exam today without roll numbers. “We are taking the exams according to their college roll numbers. The external examiners are finding it difficult to compile the list. It is a lapse on the part of the university, which should be taken care of in future”, said Prof Jaipal.

Amanjot Kaur, a student of BSc (I), said that they were being harassed by the university. “Its not with me alone. The entire class has not been issued the roll numbers. We cannot concentrate on our studies till all formalities are completed. For getting roll numbers, we have to come daily to the college”, she said.

The university in its syllabus has mentioned that practical examinations will be conducted in groups comprising 12 students only. But in both morning and evening sessions, a batch of 15 students each is appearing for exams. “Thirty students were to appear for practicals and the number of question papers were just 20. We had to share the question papers”, complained a student.

Ms Indra Bhatia, Principal, SCD Government College, said that they would be get roll numbers any time. “The examiners are taking the practicals but they will surely be getting roll numbers before written exams”, she said.



SBI, LIC Housing Finance seal defaulters’ properties
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
With banks and housing finance companies having toughened their stand, loan defaulters are having a tough time. While the State Bank of India, took possession of three properties today, the LIC Housing Finance took over four properties last week.

Physical possession of the properties mortgaged in the accounts of M/s Anand Confectioners, M/s Parkash Karyana Store, Mr Gopal Krishan and Mr Prem Parkash, all near Campa Cola Chowk, was taken by the State Bank of India today.

According to bank officials, while the amount due from M/s Anand Confectioners as on July 31, 2004, was nearly Rs 16 lakh, M/s Parkash Karyana Store had to repay over Rs 36 lakh and Mr Gopal Krishan and Mr Prem Parkash were to repay more than Rs 25 lakh as on September 30, 2004. A team of bank officials led by Ms Inderjit Bakhshi, authorised officer, locked and sealed the properties of the defaulters.

The above parties were served a 60-day notice under the provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, but they failed to come forward.

LIC Housing Finance Company, on the other hand, took possession of the properties of Mr Lal Singh in Kabir Nagar, Mr Gurdev Singh in New Kuldip Nagar, Mr Darshan Singh in Indira Puri here and of Ms Nisha Goyal and Mr Shiv Kumar Goyal in New Abadi, Khanna. The amount due by each of these defaulters ranged between Rs 2.85 lakh and Rs 7.33 lakh.

Mr K.B. Kohli, Area Manager, LIC Housing Finance, informed that the company had issued notices to more than 60 persons during this financial year and had taken possession of 13 properties since December 2004.

“The implementation of the Securitisation Act has been very helpful in curbing defaulters,” said Mr Kohli. He said after the company had initiated the process of taking physical possession of properties, the number of defaulters who came to settle their dues on being issued notices had increased. “While earlier, borrowers did not pay much heed to notices regarding repayment, now they are coming in increasing numbers to settle their loans,” he said.



SAD (youth wing) protests against ‘sell-out’ of liquor vends
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
Several workers of the district youth wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal today staged a demonstration at the Gill Road to protest against the “sell-out” of the liquor vends in Punjab to one particular group of contractors led by Mr Ponty Chadha. They also burnt an effigy of the Punjab Government.

Led by the district president of the Youth Akali Dal, Mr Simarjit Singh Bains, the demonstrators also burnt an effigy of the government. They alleged that huge money was exchanged between the contractors and the powers-that-be and the vends were handed over on a platter.

Mr Bains is considered to be close to Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, a former minister and MLA from Kila Raipur. Mr Garcha’s younger brother is also a leading liquor contractor who could not match Mr Chadha’s influence this time. The Garchas had been controlling the liquor business during the time of Mr Parkash Singh Badal and were being supported by his son, Mr Sukhbir Badal. Although Mr Chadha came here during Mr Badal’s time only, it was his son-in-law and the then Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, who helped him (Mr Chadha) to settle down here, much to the chagrin of his brother-in-law, Mr Sukhbir Badal and the Garchas. Since then, there has been no looking back for Mr Chadha and he is believed to have taken full control of liquor business in the state.

Mr Bains, who joined the SAD-B only a year ago, is close to Garchas. His protest is attributed to his association and proximity to the Garcha family only as they (the Garchas) have not been left with much to protest. They are believed to have adopted a “wait-and-watch” policy till their time comes.

Mr Bains pointed out, much against the tradition, that the auction of liquor vends had witnessed a minor increase over the previous year. This makes it too clear as to where the money has gone. “The money which should have gone to the state exchequer has been pocketed by a few people only, while the state has been made to lose”, he alleged, while demanding that the auction should be cancelled and held afresh.



Development projects impress Leicester Mayor 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
The Mayor of Leicester, Mr Piara Singh Clair, has a deep attachment with the city. Three decades have not erased his memory of the city he has always been fond of. It is not just nostalgia alone. He has spent the formative years of his career here when he was a student of Punjab Agricultural University.

Mr Clair went to the United Kingdom after completing his studies here. It was with sheer hardwork, sincerity and commitment that he rose to become the ‘Lord Mayor’ of one of the historical cities of England.

Last night Mr Clair shared his experiences with his Ludhiana counterpart, Mr Nahar Sngh Gill. He is here along with a 19-member delegation from Leicester. They include some councillors and also a couple of police officers. Leicester, he said, was one of the oldest cities of England. However, its population was far too low than Ludhiana. While the population of Ludhiana is thirty lakh, that of Leicester it is three lakh only.

But it is not the magnitude of the population that determines the quality of service to be provided to the people. He maintained that although large population does pose a problem, but it is not that it cannot be managed when there is proper planning and execution of the development projects. He said, he found the growth of Ludhiana proper and appropriate despite so many limitations. When he was told about various development projects like the supply of drinking water to entire 30 lakh persons or the setting up of the biomedical waste disposal plant, he said, it was really a progressive thing to note.

Mr Nahar Singh Gill said he had invited Mr Clair to learn from his experience as he happened to come from a developed country while India was still a developing nation. He said, he was happy that the delegation had appreciated the functioning of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation with all its limitations and the massive work load.

The delegation earlier took a round of the city along with some senior officials of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to have an on-the-spot experience of various developmental projects. The members observed that the city needed to lay added focus on the infrastructure development, particularly the roads. They also had a detailed interaction with senior police officers as two of the members of the delegation were police officers. They discussed the mechanism by which the police from the two cities can cooperate and share their professional experiences which can be mutually beneficial to both.



March to highlight plight of jailed Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
The Shiromani Khalsa Dal will organise a Bandi Chhor Khalsa march from Akal Takht on March 23 to highlight the plight of incarcerated Sikh youths. Major Singh Khalsa, a spokesperson for the outfit, said that a majority of the Sikh leadership had conveniently forgotten to seek justice for the youth, many of whom were imprisoned during the dharam yudh morcha more than 20 years ago.

Most of them had spent a major part of their life behind bars and were among the longest serving prisoners in this part of the world. He alleged that some were put in jail for merely participating in the dharam yudh morcha. These people had been either implicated or awarded life terms on false charges. There ere many old and sick persons, besides women, among the detainees. The march would start at 10 am after performing ardas at Akal Takht and the participants would stop for the night at Talhan. The march would reach Anandpur Sahib the next evening. A conference would be held on the occasion of Hola Mohalla celebrations on the night intervening March 24- 25, he added.

Senior leaders of the Dal, Mr Surinderpal Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh Malhi, Mr Surinder Singh Kishanpura, and Mr Sewak Singh have appealed to the Sikh masses, Panthic parties, eminent personalities, social organisations, besides human rights organisations to participate in the march to send a strong message to the government. The main aim of the march was to highlight the human rights violations in the name of law enforcement and the need of rule of law, he added.



Manch to observe anti-imperialism day today
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 22
The Shaheed Bhagat Singh Vichar Manch yesterday decided to observe the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and revolutionary poet Pash as anti-imperialism day on March 23 at the Punjabi Bhavan at 2.30pm. Dr Sucha Singh Gill, an eminent economist and political analyst, will deliberate on “Relevance of the Philosophy of the Great Revolutionaries” in the present Indian context.

Speaking to mediapersons Prof A.K. Maleri, and Mr Jaswant Zirakh, president and general secretary of the manch, said that poverty, illiteracy, hunger and disease and the increasing gap between rich and poor were the outcome of the policies pursued by the ruling classes of India at the behest of the World Bank, and other Imperialist powers.

The two leaders further said that the manch was committed to take the message of the great revolutionaries to the new generations by organising cultural activities and holding seminars and conferences.

A small booklet in Hindi ‘Why I am an atheist’ would also be released on the occasion. An exhibition of the great warriors of the Gadhar Movement would also be displayed on the occasion.



Insurance staff to go on strike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
Employees of all four public sector general insurance companies - Oriental Insurance, New India Assurance, National Insurance and United India Insurance- will participate in the two-day nationwide strike on March 23 and 24.

The employees have sent a memorandum of their demands regarding pending pay revision and promotion of employees to the Finance Minister. Mr Joginder Singh, vice-president, General Insurance Officers All-India Association, said “Pay revision has been pending since August 2002 but has not been implemented till date which disheartened the employees.” He said after 12 per cent employees opted for the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) last year, others were not promoted. In the existing stiff competition government needs to ensure that employees are motivated and are able to give their best so as to face challenges effectively.”

He also alleged that private insurance companies were adopting malpractices that needed to be curbed. “The government policies should ensure fair play and such malpractices, like giving commission much above the limit fixed by the Insurance and Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA), need to be curbed.”

Mr Joginder Singh said in protest of such policies being adopted by the government insurance employees across the country would observe strike on March 23 and 24.

Over 80,000 employees would take part in the strike, he added. 



Police drive for patient hearing
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, March 22
The Jagraon police has initiated a new scheme Sunwai-24. This scheme aims at giving a patient hearing within 24 hours to each complainant, who visits police station. The process shall include assuring the complainant that his grievance would be redressed within the shortest possible time.

The scheme is based on the observation that most of the complaints, which find their way to a police station, can be addressed to by hearing itself.

The police staff in all police stations of police district Jagraon had experimented with the scheme for 15 days before it was decided to implement it yesterday.

To monitor the implementation of the scheme, all police stations, police posts have been directed to maintain separate registers. SHOs and supervisory officers have been tasked to regularly check these registers and record their observations.



Open manhole poses threat
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
An open manhole on the GT Road near Kamla Nehru Market has become a source of nuisance for the shopkeepers and passersby who claim that the manhole has not been covered though it was opened about three days ago.

Though the shopkeepers have made several complaints to the civic body to cover the manhole as it can lead to an accident any time, these have gone unheeded and it lies uncovered.

Some shopkeepers said they had put a danger sign on the manhole to warn the commuters in the evening as they can fall in the manhole anytime.



Attempt to loot bank
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 22
The Dehlon police has registered an FIR under Sections 457, 380, 427 and 511, IPC, against some unidentified persons who reportedly tried to loot Cooperative Bank at Maherna Kalan on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the Jagraon district police has taken a notice of indifferent attitude of the bank authorities on the security arrangement in and around their respective institutes.

Mr Rajinder Singh, Manager of the Ludhiana Central Cooperative Bank, informed the police yesterday that some unidentified persons had tried to loot the bank after entering into the main building situated at focal point at Maherna Kalan.

Though no major loss was reported to the police, the burglars had broken open some almirahs. At least three locks and handles of the safes had been cut with a file.

Preliminary observations revealed that the authorities at the bank had not taken proper care of the cash deposited by the clients. Though at times cash worth lakhs was kept at the branch, adequate security arrangements were not made.

Referring to instructions issued to the bank authorities from time to time, Mr Rajiv Ahir, Senior Superintendent of Police Jagraon, said most of the authorities ignored the suggestions given by the police at the meetings held frequently.

Commenting on the security arrangements at the banks situated in the rural areas the SSP said that most of them were situated in unprotected areas. 



LIC attains annual premium target
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
The Ludhiana division of the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) of India has attained its annual premium budget of Rs 79 crore, recording a growth of 76.5 per cent over previous year, informed Mr D.K. Bhagat, Senior Divisional Manager, LIC.

Attributing the high growth rate to a good market response to LIC’s Bima Plus and Future Plus policies, Mr Bhagat informed that the Future Plus Policy, launched on March 4 this year, had helped the Ludhiana division collect Rs 8.64 crore within merely 15 days.

He said the branch offices in Samrala, Jagraon, Khanna, Bathinda, CAB Ludhiana and Rampur Phul had also attained their annual premium targets. “In the remaining days of the current financial year, the Ludhiana division is likely to increase its premium income to Rs 121 crore,” Mr Bhagat said.

He also informed that the division had paid Rs 140.16 crore towards maturity claims and Rs 17.54 crore towards death claims up to February 28, 2005.



Fidelity Equity Fund hits market
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 22
Fidelity Fund Management Private Limited has launched its maiden fund, ‘The Fidelity Equity Fund’. According to a company press note, the fund is an open-ended equity growth scheme aimed at generating long-term capital growth from a diversified portfolio of predominantly equity and equity-linked securities.

The fund will be based on the conviction that each stock has the potential to grow in value and will not have any market cap bias or trend bias or recent performance bias, the company says. It says the fund aims at spreading investment across a broad range of businesses and will contain a portfolio of about 75 stocks.


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