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Brothers ‘murder’ brother near Jagraon
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, November 24
For four decades two brothers of Sohian village showered all love and care on their youngest brother but the minor issue of spending money on a nephew's marriage allegedly led them to his merciless murder.

The duo had become so upset with their younger brother, an NRI, for spending a lot of money on the marriage of a nephew that they allegedly killed him with sharp-edged weapons in the village on the intervening night of November 20 and 21.

The Jagraon police today arrested both the brothers, Baljit Singh and Harbans Singh, aged over 50 on the charge of killing the NRI, Ranjit Singh, and later claiming that some unidentified assailants had killed their brother.

SSP Jagraon R K Jaiswal said Baljit Singh was in fact the complainant in the case. He has now turned out to be the main accused besides his other brother. He has appreciated the role of DSP Gurjit Singh and SHO Dharampal, who with their team solved the case within three days.

The police had got suspicious about the role of the accused brothers when they had reported the matter to the police almost three hours after the incident.

Secondly, they kept on denying that they had a bitter quarrel with the victim a day before the murder over the issue of spending money in a nephew's marriage besides division of property. Some villagers had seen them quarrelling also.

The complainant, who later turned accused, could not explain the delay in reporting the matter to the police also. Though some of the villagers had come to know about the incident early in the morning on November 21, Baljit Singh took at least three hours to reach the police station to lodge a complaint. The police suspected foul play on the part of the members of the family as the deceased was still unmarried and had been staying abroad at times.

A minor child who claimed to have seen the complainant and the deceased quarrelling on the said evening, substantiated the suspicion. When Baljit Singh and his brother, Harbans Singh, denied having quarrelled with the deceased, the police started searching. Gurminder Singh, alias Nikka, another villager, who was seen sitting with the trio on that day, admitted having seen the murder taking place.

Further investigations revealed that Ranjit Singh used to abuse his brothers and others concerned. He had recently sold a piece of land and spent the proceeds on the marriage of one nephew. "On that fateful evening, the three brothers, including Ranjit, Baljit and Harbans, sat over drinks along with some other friends, including me.

The three brothers exchanged hot words over the property issue and were later left alone by others," Gurminder told the police. It was later in the night that Gurminder had reportedly seen Baljit and Harbans attacking Ranjit with sharp-edged weapons and despite his best efforts he could not save him.

As Gurminder was the only witness to the murder, the accused threatened him of dire consequences and made him leave the area. Persistent efforts by the police made him blurt out the truth on the basis of which a team led by Mr Dharam Pal nabbed Baljit Singh and Harbans Singh when they were trying to leave the area yesterday. The police has recovered weapons used in the crime, blood-stained clothes and a newspaper in which the weapons were wrapped.



This couple makes heads turn
Man only Sikh cop in New South Wales, wife train driver
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
This Ludhiana couple has made many heads turn in Australia. He is the only turbaned cop with the New South Wales police and his wife has become the first Indian woman who drives a train.

An engineering graduate from the local Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Mr Sukhminder Singh Rajput, and his wife Manndhir Rajput, a former English teacher, had never imagined that they would be a cop and a train driver, respectively, before they migrated to Australia.

Their family back home was pleasantly surprised when he broke the news of being selected as a superviser in the Operational Informational Agency of New South Wales police.

‘‘They actually asked me whether I had grown that strong to pull a train. I had to tell them that I did not need to physical force but it was all about managing the entire system of successfully driving a train,’’ says Ms Rajput.

‘‘I love my profession. It is an adventure mixed with challenge. The idea that thousands of people travelling in the train are dependent on the driver forces you to forget everything else in the world, be it yourself, your children or your parents. Its only the machine and so many people sitting in it. There is no room for even a small error,’’ she adds.

She joined South Wales Rail in 2003 as a guard. She came across an advertisement in a newspaper and applied for the job. She was called for an interview and her good communication skills got her the job. From there started her love story with the rails and there was no looking back. Finally, she became a driver.

Being a mother of two young children at that time did not deter her from undertaking rigorous training to become a driver.

‘‘I am the only one to be present in the engine, though there is a guard but his role is different. I have to coordinate with the station manager and control the speed of the train,’’ adds Ms Rajput.

The couple are on a visit to the city with regard to a family function.

Mr Rajput takes pride in saying that he is the only turbaned sikh with the police. ‘‘I have to face many questions for the head gear but I do not want to suffer from an identity crisis and prefer wearing a turban,’’ he says, adding that at times he had to clarify that he was not related to Osama bin Laden.



UK cops in Phillaur to probe murder case
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, November 24
A Special Investigation Team of the British Police has launched investigations into the sensation day-light murder of a British citizen-cum-Non-Resident Indian, Mohan Singh, who was clubbed to death outside a restaurant near Sutlej river over two months ago.

The Phillaur police has drawn a flak into the investigation into the murder case of NRI Mohan Singh, forcing about 10,000 NRIs in England to press the British police to visit India and conduct its own investigations.

The NRIs have in representation to the British police sought its intervention on the ground that Mohan Singh was a British citizen. Unidentified assailants had clubbed the NRI to death in full public view outside Dal Roti.com restaurant on GT road over two months ago. The assailants had come in a Black Scorpio.

They had parked it near Sutlej river bridge and came by foot to the restaurant. After the murder they coolly went back on foot with no one daring to nab them. There was so much fear of the assailants that no one later claimed to the police that they had seen the murder.

The case is hogging the limelight in British newspapers, especially those run by Indians due to the allegations against some local cops of allegedly helping the murder accused. Recently, a resident of Haripur village here who had allegedly spilled the beans about the culprits was attacked and seriously wounded. The local police has not done much on is statement too, sources said.

Two cops of the British police armed with a questionnaire containing 60 queries left for England today morning. They refused to divulge any details to the media. DSP, Punjab Police, Phillaur, GursharanDeep Singh Grewal said the 60 questions included their queries on what the Punjab Police has done so far in the case.

The case has spread panic among the NRIs who fear threat to their life and security in Phillaur. Mohan Singh’s brother Terath Singh, is a councillor of the Tory Party in Leicster.

In his representation to the British Police, he had said that Mohan Singh was allegedly killed by contract killers at the behest of some land grabbers in Phillaur. He reportedly accused some local Punjab police cops of helping the accused, whose involvement in the case was an open secret.



Passing Thru

Sunil Bansal
Mr Sunil Bansal, ED, Liberty

Has the footwear industry witnessed any change in trends?

Trends have certainly changed. Not only is comfort a priority now when it comes to buying footwear, customers look in for a product that offers style and good quality too. In terms of fashion, sportswear has become quite popular. In all our 10 brands we are manufacturing 10 per cent sportswear in each, be it for women, men or kids.

Where does the Indian shoe industry stand in comparison to global industry?

Our industry is on a par with whatever is being offered internationally — be it quality or fashion. Recently Wal Mart, that earlier gave its orders to China, also placed orders with Indian companies for manufacturing footwear. This has happened for the first time and is a very positive indication for our industry.

Any expansion plans?

We would set up a plant near Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh, that would start functioning from April next year. Besides, we also plan network expansion by setting up 25 mega showrooms this financial year in metros. Apart from expansion, we would be importing costume jewellery and watches from Hong Kong, that would be available at our outlets. This is to give a complete store where a customer can chose accessories alongwith his footwear under one roof.

— Shveta Pathak



Focus on agriculture, says Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
The Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues(retd), today called for increasing "our collective endeavour" for improved farming and other agri-related professions by adopting multi-pronged strategies with effective linkage with modern means of technology and an efficient marketing support structure.

"There is need for a hard look on the total agriculture scenario, irrigation potential, proper water management system, cost inputs and agro-food processing mechanism to make agriculture a profitable venture and increase its benefits to the farming community," he said, while inaugurating an annual conference of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics (ISAE) at Punjab Agricultural University here today.

He said: "we have the potential, knowledge, expertise and professional capability and we must pool all these resources to achieve better results in agriculture."

He said the diversification of crops and the shift from wheat paddy rotation was the only answer to ensure the survival of agriculture as land holdings and productivity were diminishing.

The Governor said a modern terminal market for food and vegetables was being set up on the outskirts of Chandigarh at Makhan Majra village with centralised electronic auction facility, ,3000 MT cold storage, state of the art testing/certification lab, and a provision for a food processing unit. The produce would be exported. The foods and vegetables to the market shall be supplied through 20 collection centres in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr. K. S. Aulakh, said though agriculture credit played a significant role in increasingproductivity, economists must reflect on indebtedness and suggest corrective steps. In Punjab, the estimated debt burden on farmers was Rs 20,000 crore. Out of that, non-institutional debt was around Rs 9,000 crore and the remaining was advanced by institutions.

He pointed out that the average debt per farmer was around Rs 2 lakh. There were 9.97 lakh operational holdings in the state. He also expressed concern over the plight of cotton growers in south-western districts where the debt burden had become endemic due to successive crop failure. He hoped the economists would pay attention to this problem since it was pushing the farmers to suicide.

Dr S.S.Johl, president, Indian Society of Agricultural Economics and Vice-Chairman, Punjab Planning Board, said the fast depleting underground water resources in Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and some other states was a matter of concern. If immediate measures were not adopted, it would ruin the land and environment, leading to an economic crisis.

Mr Y.S.P. Thorat, Managing Director, Nabard, said the outreach of the banking system to 24.31 million farmers showed a distinct bias towards households with larger farm holdings.



Rousing reception to Makkar
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
It was an unforgettable homecoming for the newly-appointed president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, as he stepped out of his official car to acknowledge the greetings and cheers from hundreds of supporters who had gathered in the city suburbs at Jalandhar bypass to receive him. Mr Makkar, who had left home on Wednesday for the SGPC general house meeting as an ordinary member knowing little that he would return benighted today, remained as modest as ever, even after his unexpected 'knighthood'.

For a while it looked as if the Akalis had forgotten their rivalry. Even his sworn rival, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, the senior vice-president of the Shiromani Akali Dal(Badal), waited for him at the Jalandhar bypass, the main entry point to the city, to receive the SGPC chief. Mr Makkar, who 'laddered' his position to the top, thus overtaking many a senior party leader from Ludhiana in terms of seniority, was given due respect he would deserve, albeit as a pradhan only.

Since Mr Makkar's proximity to the Badals, more so Mr Sukhbir Badal, has already been established, none of the party leaders wanted to be seen dissenting or disagreeing with the decision. Each and every leader tried to make himself more visible at the reception and around Mr Makkar only for the obvious reason. Among the first to hug Mr Makkar was Mr Bhatia himself.

Prominent among those who received him included the district president of the party, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, former MP, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Baba Ajit Singh, Mr Jagjit Singh Ghungrana and a number of party councillors and local leaders. They were escorted by hundreds of party workers shouting slogans.

From the Jalandhar bypass he was taken in a long cavalcade of cars to the Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town, where he addressed his supporters and party workers.



Dawar seeks expulsion of Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
The Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Surinder Dawar, has demanded the expulsion of Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Congress MLA, for repeatedly violating the discipline of party by issuing provocative and irresponsible statements against senior party ministers and leaders.

In a statement issued here on Tuesday, Mr Dawar said instead of raising the issue at party forum, Mr Bir Devinder Singh was openly issuing press statements against senior leaders and causing an irreparable damage to the credibility of the party. He said when he had given such first statement, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President, PPCC, had issued him a showcause notice.

He said Mr Dullo had directed all party leaders not to directly approach the media, if one has any complaint or grievance against any minister then he should bring it to the notice of the Chief Minister or PPCC President, so that the proper inquiry could be made and action be taken.

He said Mr Bir Devinder Singh was fond of raking up non issues to gain cheap media publicity.



Fate took their ‘Chain’ away
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
While an Indian driver, M.R. Kutty, was allegedly found murdered today after being kidnapped in Afghanistan, the family of an Indian hockey coach, Chain Singh, who was kidnapped in 1980 in that country when he was coaching the Afghanistan national hockey team, are still awaiting some definite news about his fate.

Even after 25 years, there is no trace of the Indian coach and the 16 members of the Afghanistan hockey team, nor any news of what transpired after the bus in which they all were travelling was hijacked by Afghan mercenaries and taken into a tunnel.

The Kutty incident has re-opened the wounds of the family who just want to know what exactly happened to Chain Singh on the ill-fated day of April 27, 1980.

The Indian Government’s move to declare him dead after seven years only because of the norm of declaring missing persons dead if there was no news about them for seven years.

His wife Kanchan Salaria, employed with the Netaji Subash National Institute of Sports, Patiala, said she wanted the Indian Government to find the truth about her husband.

Her son Ravinder Salaria, a businessman based in Pathankot, said relationships between Indian and Afghanistan had improved a lot recently and he hoped that the Indian Government would use diplomatic channels to trace the sequence of events before and after the mysterious disappearance of his father.

Chain Singh was deputed by the Government of India to train the hockey players of Afghanistan in 1978. He had gone to Afghanistan on a special invitation by the then Afghan Government to train its hockey team. He was specially selected for the job by the Indian Government keeping in mind his achievement in raising a competitive hockey team from among the tribals in Bihar.

His wife recollects that the Afghanistan team was scheduled to play some friendly matches in Russia in 1980. While returning via land route, the whole team was kidnapped after crossing the border into Afghanistan. Two Russian tanks were moving ahead and behind the bus in which the team was travelling to provide security cover.

The bus was negotiating a blind curve after the pilot tank had moved ahead when it was suddenly commandeered by Afghan resistance fighters and driven into a tunnel, Ms Kanchan added.

Four members of the team who had managed to escape had later revealed this to the Afghanistan army. They told the authorities that while five players were shot dead by the fighters while attempting to escape, the coach and seven players were still in the custody of the fighters when they made good their escape, she added.

She said she was told that the team was kidnapped because the mercenaries did not want the Afghanistan hockey team to have any links with Moscow as they were fighting the then USSR army.

She recalled that the assurances by the Indian and the Afghanistan Governments that Chain Singh would be released seemed hollow as that day never came.



Justice sought for ex-servicemen
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 24
The ex-services league, Punjab and Chandigarh, while welcoming the setting up of the Armed Forces Tribunal has urged the Army authorities to treat all ranks equally.

Commenting on the establishment of the tribunal, Lt-Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd), president of the league, said here today that the number of cases in courts pertaining to Army personnel was on the increase.

He pointed out that in court martial cases, too, the courts had given verdicts against the court martial courts. It was imperative on the part of the tribunal to work on the principle that all ranks were equal under law and they must be treated in the same manner.

He also said the Supreme Court had directed that votes of the Army personnel should be immediately made at the area of their posting. He revealed that nearly 60,000 personnel could not cast their votes during the Haryana Sabha elections.

Highlighting the activities of the league, he said the league had to fight with the Central Government which did not give any represent action to them on the four Central pay commissions and in the fifth pay commission, they showed passbooks of widows who were getting only Rs 3 per month as pension. It was after the presentation of the cases to the fifth pay commission that the widow pension in the Army were revised to Rs 1,200 per month.

He sought a separate pay commission for the Army personnel. He also claimed that the league had fought with the Central Government on the question of one rank, one pay.

Col Dhillon regretted that the government was not fulfilling the commitment of lateral induction of Army personnel in the paramilitary forces. Like the CRPF and the BSF. The JCOs and other ranks retired at a very early age and their rehabilitation was a very big issue. The government must provide employment to retirees who had spent the best period of their life in the service of the nation.

The league president claimed that the political parties were always bent on exploiting ex-soldiers but never serious about their welfare. The parties must do away with their ex-service cells and help them in their rehabilitation.

Col Dhillon said the state government was not giving any representation to the league on panels like grievance committees at the district level and the state headquarters.



Reunion of rehabilitated drug addicts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 24
"Now I have kicked off the habit of taking drugs after one month's stay in Aas Kiran, a de-addiction centre, run by Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle. I feel life is beautiful. Even my children are happy and I can spend money on them instead of drugs," said Darshan Singh (name changed), a 40-year-old man with two children.

The rehabilitated drug addicts, who were staying for one month for de-addiction in the Aas Kiran, were called for a reunion at the centre yesterday.

Mr Jasbir Singh, Director, Communication and Technology of the Study Circle, presided over the function. He interacted with the rehabilitated persons.

Dr Deepinder Singh, Director, Social and Health Services of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, gave tips on how to stay away from drugs. 



Love for animals impresses French SPA members
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
Florence Gouachon, a member of SPA (Society for Protection of Animals) Toulouse, France, recently visited the Jeev Kalyan Kendra and Bhagwan Mahavir Abhayshala (PFA Animals and Birds Hospital and Shelter) an Khwajke-Rahon Road, here.

Florence was impressed that people in India do not treat animals as things as was beind done in some western countries. Her organisation runs a shelter here for abandoned old and infirm animals and manages for their adoption. She was surprised to see that people in India in spite of poverty and lack of awareness were coming forward to help animals.



Non-refund of VAT hits industry
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
Non-refund of VAT has added to the woes of the industry that has already been facing tough times due to the implementation of the new taxation system.

Industrialists are complaining of huge amounts of capital being blocked due to the non-refunds.

“The industry is suffering and the capital is blocked.The government, while implementing the new system, had promised that refunds would be made within 60 days but now the third quarter of the year is also midway and the government appears to have forgotten about it. If this situation continues, the industry is bound to suffer badly,” said Mr Varinder Kapoor, general secretary, United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association.

Various industry associations have given representations to the government in this regard.

The Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) general secretary, Mr Avtar Singh, said: “In spite of several representations, no decision has been taken by the Punjab Government so far.”

The chamber urged state Finance Minister Surinder Singla to release VAT refunds at the earliest.

“Small and medium enterprises in the state cannot afford to run their units when a large portion of their funds is blocked due to the non-refund of VAT,” Mr Avtar Singh said.

Besides, the industry is also feeling harassed on issues like submitting C and H forms. The CICU said VAT refunds should be given without demanding Forms C and H.

Mr Kapur said the Finance Minister, at a meeting with industrialists on September 30, had assured them that he would issue a notification for the payment of refunds without Form C, but so far no such notification had been issued.

The chamber also said the maintenance of stock register should not be implemented as it would cause undue harassment to traders and industrialists.

Assessees are also complaining of problems in getting amendments like change of address, addition in business, product items etc. “There are cases where amendments have not been affected even after over six months of applications. This is causing inconvenience to trade and industry. To top it, the department stops goods carriers of various industries resulting in further harassment for no fault of traders,” a taxation lawyer said.



Ludhianvi palate draws food industry
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
Thanks to city residents love for food, eating joints are mushrooming here.

The last week saw two big eating joints, including a three-storeyed food complex, coming up in the city. Many more are lined up for opening in the coming weeks.

“Ludhiana is second to Delhi in this region when it comes to per capita expenditure on eating out,” says Mr Niraj Jain, CEO, Pulse India, which is part of the Rs 1,000- crore Poddar Group. The group ventured into the hospitality industry earlier this year and chose Ludhiana after Delhi to mark its entry.

The Indian food industry is estimated well over Rs 3,500 crore and those in the hospitality industry view Ludhiana as a high potential market.

Paramani Foods has an experience of over 70 years in the food business in the city. It opened a three-storeyed food complex here. The city would get a five star hotel by 2007. This is apart from players like KFC which are planning to open its outlet in the city.

Those in the industry say food business is a sure shot way to success. “People have high disposable incomes and they love eating out,” says Mr Rakesh Gupta, Director, Paramani Foods.

Another factor, say market players, is the absence of sufficient places of entertainment here. No wonder, after the success of good old “chana bhatura” shops, residents are looking forward to chic food joints.

The transition has taken place in the past five to six years only. “Even five years ago, the city did not really have an eating out culture though a couple of good restaurants were present that time too. The Sarabha Nagar market that had only a few restaurants earlier, now has more than five eating out joints in one lane only and most of these are packed to capacity,” says Mr Pankaj Sharma, a resident.

The situation is no different in areas like Ghumar Mandi, Model Town or Chaura Bazaar. “Of late eating out joints are mostly coming up in posh localities and malls. With more malls, more such joints are likely to come up,” observes Sapna, another resident.


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