L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Militant nabbed in Pamal village
Cops sent to J&K to probe his links
Mahesh Sharma

Mullanpur, December 5
The Jagraon police has sent a special investigation team to Jammu and Kashmir to investigate the contacts of Balwinder Singh, alias Billu, a self-styled area commander of the Khalistan Commando Force Zindabad, nabbed by local police from his native village Pamal in Ludhiana district here today.

Balwinder Singh, wanted in a number of cases registered at various police stations, had been declared a proclaimed offender by the police. His family had been saying that he was dead. He had been living in Jammu with a fake identity.

According to Mr R.K. Jaiswal, Senior Superintendent of Police Jagraon, the Mullanpur Dakha SHO, Mr Prem Singh had received information that Balwinder Singh Billu, a self-styled area commander of the banned organisation Khalistan Commando Force Zindabad, who had been shown dead by his family, was alive and had been visiting his house occasionally.

“The police laid a trap and succeeded in detaining a person with identity resembling a PO of the police. Further investigations revealed that he was an associate of Labh Singh Sukha Sipahi and Panjwar, infamous terrorists, who had been active in the state during dark days,” briefed Mr Jaiswal to this reporter.

As Billu admitted having spent around 15 years in Jammu under the fake identity of one Kuldeep Singh, the police hopes to explore further possibilities of his links with other militant outfits also. “A special investigation team has been sent to Jammu to verify the facts narrated by the arrested militant and explore further possibilities of his involvement in other cases,” said Mr Jaiswal.

Preliminary investigation revealed that Billu had been booked at least in three cases registered at the Dakha police station. Acting in association of Tirlok Singh Khalsa of Rurka and Paramjit Singh Pinki of Dakha, Jaswant Singh of Hirdowal and Avtar Singh Golu of Dakha, he had allegedly murdered Malkiat Singh and his daughter-in-law Hatinder Kaur. He admitted to having killed Bhagwant Singh of Bhanohar also. Besides being booked under Sections 302 and 307 of the IPC, he was wanted in cases registered under the Arms Act and the TDAP Act. The police had seized huge amounts of arms and ammunition and literature of militant organisations then.

To evade arrest by the Punjab Police, Billu had eloped and settled at Garhigarh village in Jammu district. He had opened two PCOs opposite a private college of education and opened bank accounts with changed identity at Jammu Central Cooperative Bank at Dugiana and Jammu and Kashmir Bank at Satwir Chowk Jammu. Though he visited his native frequently, nobody, including investigating agencies, presumed him to be dead.

The police recovered a revolver and six live cartridges from his possession today.



Poaching caused death of peacocks in forest: report
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
The much-awaited chemical examination report on the viscera of four carcasses of the national bird, peacock, recovered from the Mattewara forest about both good and month ago, has brought both good and bad news for the Wildlife and the Animal Husbandry Department of the state.

The good news is that the report has ruled out the dreaded avian flu as the cause of the death. The bad news is that the birds were poisoned to death, probably by roadside quacks, pointing out that despite vigil and protection, the national bird is being hunted for one reason or the other.

The State Wild Life Department and the Animal Husbandry department had kept the recovery of the carcasses a closely guarded secret till now after they had suspected that the birds could be victims of the highly contagious avian flu, feared due to migratory birds.

Their suspicion is over but the danger of extinction of the national bird by way of poaching looms large. While none of the officials of the two departments were available for comments, SHO Koom Kalan, Inderjit Singh confirmed to the Ludhiana Tribune the recovery of the four carcasses from the Mattewara forest over a month ago.

The police, conducted proceedings under Section 174 of the CrPC. SI Inderjit Singh said they had not received the copy of the chemical examination report so far and would register a case accordingly.

He confirmed that the police had got the post-mortem examination of the recovered carcasses from a veterinary doctor of the Animal Husbandry Department.

Meanwhile, Dr Sandeep Jain, president, People For Animals, claimed that roadside quacks, armed with weapons and supported by hounds, hunt these birds for preparing some aphrodisiac.

He said the PFA had been raising the issue about the increasing incidents of poaching. He said in this case the department got the carcasses, as may be the quacks could not pick those well in time.

He has called for an indepth investigation into the incident. He said only a crackdown on quacks could lead to the fall in such cases and ultimately the safety of our national bird.



Graduate in computers sells waste paper
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 5
Vijay Kumar is one of the thousands of educated youths who prefer to take up a profession not commensurate with their educational qualifications than to starve. He tried his luck in Punjab after he was told by one of his friends that a majority of Punjabis avoided, manual labour.

Son of a farmer of Kandhya village in Fatehpur district in UP, Vijay Kumar completed postgraduate diploma in computers from UP. He got married in 1999 and has a daughter also.

Though he was working in a private school in his home state, the meagre pay the management used to give him was not sufficient to run the family. This along with the abusive behaviour of his alcoholic father made Vijay shift to Punjab with his wife and daughter.

But all his dreams of a better life were shattered as he failed to secure job in any of the private organisations here. This force Vijay to start collecting waste paper (raddi) and other materials, including thermoplastic. “Though apparently it seems a below dignity profession, it fetches me good money actually now I make more money than what I used to as a maths and science teacher in my home state,” justifies Vijay.

Forgetting the ill-treatment of his father he sends substantial money to him to stop him from selling his property and he also sends money for the studies of his younger brother who is a Class X student.

When asked about his ambition he says, “Giving good education to my daughter is my only ambition.



Parking lots auctioned amid tight security
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Following orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation today auctioned five parking lots in Feroze Gandhi market, which fetched an amount of Rs 70.5 lakh as compared to last year’s price of around Rs 32 lakh.

While the auction remained peaceful the authorities had deployed security forces and did not allow anybody except the nine bidders, who had actually deposited earnest money in their names. Not even supporters of bidders were allowed inside the zone-D office of the MC.

As the bidding continued for around 10 minutes only, the contract went to Mr Kamaljit Singh, who is said to be a supporter of the former contractors, who were also Congress leaders of the city.

With the contract allotted to Mr Kamaljit Singh, shopkeepers, traders and property owners of Feroze Gandhi market heaved a sigh of relief as they had been claiming that if the contract would go to car bazar people, they would use the lots for parking the cars and causing inconvenience to others.

Surprisingly, the last bid went up to Rs 70.5 lakh as both the parties did not want to lose the contract. But finally it was retained by the old party only. Now, the shopkeepers are worried that the contractors would be harassing people for making up for at least the bidding money.

The auction of these parking lots had been a contentious issue for quite some time. Two groups, led by Congress leader, Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka, and car dealer Tarlochan Singh Safri had been vying for the contract.

The MC had postponed the auction in August this year following protests by a group of bidders from car bazaar, who had claimed that the reserve price of lots was very high.

The genesis of the problem lay in the direction of high court allowing the contractors to park only 300 cars at one point of time in the parking lots.

The bidders had been claiming that it would be difficult for them to even earn the reserve price, what to talk of profits. Mr Safri’s group had been alleging that the MC wanted to favour Mr Tikka in retaining the contract.

Last time, Mr Safri, had alleged that the contract was allotted to three persons including Mr Amarjit Singh Tikka and Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, both Congress leaders at a price of Rs 29,60,000.

They did not want to bid at a reserve price of Rs 32,60,000 this time and were protesting. Finally, the auction was postponed and the contract was extended in favour of Mr Tikka. Later, the other party went to the high court, which had intervened.



Leaders of retrenched workers to meet Kondal
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Representatives of workers rendered jobless following the closure of cycle divisions of Highway Industries and Rockman Cycle Industries will meet Financial Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, Mr J.R. Kondal, in Chandigarh tomorrow. Workers have been given a chance for hearing following their application for review of the decision of partial closure.

“We would put forth our case and demand that the closed cycle wings be restarted,” said Mr Jagdish Chand, joint-secretary, Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), Punjab.

The hearing comes as a ray of hope to over 1,500 workers rendered jobless on account of the closure over a month ago. The workers have been sitting on a dharna demanding the closed divisions to be restarted.

Managements of the two companies had applied for closure of cycle divisions stating that running the two units had become unviable due to heavy losses. The managements had also cited labour problem as one of the reasons resulting in high costs. The decision to close down the cycle wings was taken by Mr J.R. Kondal and notice regarding the same was given on November 3.

The closure evoked strong reaction from workers, who held several protest dharnas and rallies. While the managements of these companies said that the decision was taken only after consultations with both management and workers, the workers alleged that they were not given any chance to present their viewpoint.

When the management termed the closure as ‘permanent’ workers applied for a review of the decision. Workers have also alleged that the two companies have been recruiting more workers on contract or daily basis in their auto divisions even after the closure.

However, in tomorrow’s hearing, workers’ union would only put forth its demand to restart the closed wings.

While the fate of the workers remains undecided, the CPM has said that it would take the issue to the Centre. A rally of workers from northern states would be held in Delhi on December 8 in which the issue pertaining to the closure would also be taken up.



3 of family die in accident
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Tragedy struck a leading spareparts manufacturer of the city when he along with his wife and daughter died in a road accident near Khamano while his son was seriously injured late last night.

The family of businessman, Naresh Goel was returning from Naina Devi when the Maruti Zen car (PB 10 BF 7811) hit at the rear of a parked truck (HR- 07- 9927). Besides Naresh (48), his wife Darshana Goel (42) and daughter Ruhi Goel (21) died on the spot. His son Sourave Goel, aged about 20 suffered multiple fractures.

The Khamano police has registered a case under Section 283, 304 a and 427of the IPC against the truck driver Jagtar Singh who was absconding. The police said the truck did not have any reflectors and was also not parked properly.



Badal’s call to anti-Cong parties
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 5
Former Punjab Chief Minister and president of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD-B) Parkash Singh Badal today gave a call to all anti-Congress political parties to come together at a single platform so that the ruling party could be ‘annihilated’ in the coming Assembly elections and the state rid of Congress ‘misrule’.

Talking to media persons here, Mr Badal, however, added that the SAD and BJP combine was strong enough to take onto the debilitated Congress but if all other anti-Congress parties join hands, the ruling party, a staunch enemy of Punjab and the sikh community, could be routed once and for all. “We seek cooperation from other parties not because our alliance is not strong enough to deal with Congress, but we want total elimination of the party (Congress) from the political scenario.”

The SAD-B supremo termed the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh as a proficient ‘liar’, who always boasted about his achievements. But the fact remained that the present government had miserably failed to bring even a single major project to the state during its four years rule. Not only this, the industrial economy and growth rate had suffered during the Congress regime with the result that the industrial community, farmers and other sections were feeling frustrated.

Mr Badal maintained that except for witch hunting and settling political scores with its political opponents, the state government had no other achievement to its credit. The Punjab Chief Minister had been misleading the people through jugglery of figures and tall claims but the masses have had enough. The Congress stood thoroughly exposed and there was no question that the electorate would show any mercy to the party when it was time to cast their votes.

Charging the Chief Minister with nefarious attempts to create confrontation between different groups of Sikhs as well as the Sikhs and hindus to pursue his political agenda, Mr Badal said such conduct was reprehensible. He added that he had complete faith in the people of the state who would foil all such attempts aimed at creating communal discord. Mr Badal was of the opinion that the state had been unfortunate to have such an inefficient and self seeking Congress Government for the last four years but at the same time, he was hopeful that the present rulers would be made to pay for their misdeeds.

Lashing both the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Managing Committee president, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, and ‘self styled’ Akali leader, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, the SAD chief said these people had absolutely no concern for the Sikh community, or for that matter the interests of Punjab. “Such persons are agents of Congress and they take orders from their (Congress) masters rather than representing the sikh community or people of the state.”



Lok Bhalai Party flays govt policies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 5
The Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), headed by former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, today lambasted the Congress government in Punjab for its “failure” on all fronts, especially economic stagnation, unemployment, condition of farmers, trade, small and medium industry and the mass migration of youths to foreign lands.

In his hard-hitting speech, the LBP working president, Mr Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, who led the dharna and later submitted a detailed memorandum to the district authorities, alleged that during the four years of the Congress rule, the growth rate of Punjab had slid to fourth rank in the country, unemployment among the educated youth had worsened, farmers were forced to commit suicides, privatisation was spreading its tentacles far and wide and there was a sense of economic insecurity among all sections.

As a result of total inaction on part of the government to prepare the trade and industry for global competition, small-scale enterprises were being gobbled up by multinational companies, while the domestic sector had been rendered unviable and uncompetitive. To make matters worse, cumbersome taxation system, erratic power supply and undesirable bureaucratic controls had brought industrial activity and commerce to a complete halt.

Mr Mullanpuri maintained that despite its tall claims, the Congress government in Punjab had failed to curb the menace of corruption and bring transparency in governance.

Focusing on the exodus of youths to foreign countries in the absence of adequate employment and opportunities, the LBP leader said a mad rush was being witnessed among the educated and even uneducated youth to migrate to foreign lands in search of greener pastures but most of the aspirants were falling prey to cheats and fraudulent travel agents, losing their hard-earned family wealth in the process. Claiming that more than 50,000 families had been duped of over Rs 2000 crore by unscrupulous elements in the name of securing immigration for them, he urged the government to set up an effective mechanism to deal with the situation.

Mr Mullanpuri and other activists of the party further lamented that the government had closed its eyes to the “pathetic” condition of Punjab farmers and other underprivileged sections, including dalits. The Punjab farmers were under a staggering Rs 18,000 crore of debts and an estimated 70 per cent of farmers were just eking out a living. The dejected and economically ruined farmers were being pushed towards drug addiction, forced sale of agricultural land and ultimately suicides, while the government remained a mute spectator.

Speakers also dwelt on the plight of transporters, government employees, teachers and other different sections of society.

Prominent among the speakers at the dharna were Mr Darshan Singh Barewal, president, district unit, Mr Jadwinder Singh, vice-president, Mr Jassi Mangat, president, youth wing, Mr Happy Gill, general secretary, youth wing, Mr Harpreet Singh, vice-president, youth wing, Mr Kuldeep Lehra, president, district unit (urban), Ms Nachhattar Kaur Daitwal, Ms Jagjit Kaur Thind, Mr Kewal Singh Bholuwal and Mr Rachpal Singh Pamal.



Discourage religion-based politics, says Ramoowalia
Our Correspondent

Balwant Singh Ramoowalia
Balwant Singh Ramoowalia

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 5
Apprehending spread of Naxalite movement in Punjab, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president, Lok Bhalai Party has appealed to the citizens of the state to discourage religion-based politics and unite hands to restructure a society where politicians exploiting innocent people should have no place.

He wondered as to why the majority of political leaders of the state kept mum even after the Army Chief informed the Punjab Government that the state had failed to send sufficient number of physically fit youths in the Army and the deficient quota would be transferred to neighoubring state Haryana.

While talking to the Ludhiana Tribune on Sunday, Mr Rammowalia apprehended that desperate youths would adopt Naxalite ideology in case their political exploitation continued.

“As majority of the political parties have surrendered public agenda and are pursuing policies against the interests of masses a sense of instability has originated that would direct the youth towards Naxalite ideology,” argued Mr Ramoowalia.

He accused the successive state governments for ignoring the interests of masses for meager personal gains. Instead of being government for the people it has become a regime for the rich. “Even after fifty-eight years of independence, poverty, illiteracy and the drug addiction dominate the society,” he further added.

Showing concern over the ever swelling number of unemployed youths, Mr Ramoowalia claimed that crime of all nature had roots in unemployment. He stated that regional passport office at Jallandher had received inquiries in connection with more than one lakh persons belonging to six districts in Majha, who had gone to various nations in search of livelihood.



PGPC can convene Sarbat Khalsa, says Mann
Our Correspondent

Khamano, December 5
The Pakistan Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee is an independent organisation and it can convene Sarbat Khalsa. This was stated by Akali Dal (A) president Simaranjeet Singh Mann. Mr Mann was talking to mediapersons at the residence of Jathedar Harjeet Singh Gaggarwal at Gaggarwal village, near here. He said Parkash Singh Badal was pressurising jathedars to act according to his will and they had failed to take any action against Bibi Jagir Kaur and some so called saints who had indulged in anti-sikh and anti-panth activities.

He said ‘deravad’ was a very dangerous culture and the new SGPC chief Avtar Singh should take steps to bring Dera Begowal and some other big deras under the control of SGPC. He said the removal of Bibi Jagir Kaur from the post of president of SGPC was a big win for the Akali Dal (A).

In reply to a question he said only Akali Dal(A) was capable of forming a third front in the state and he appealed to the people to support and make Akali Dal (A) strong.

He said other parties except the Akali Dal, BJP and the Congress were welcome to join this third front.



Anti-corruption body meeting
Our Correspondent

Khamano, December 5
A meeting of the anti-corruption and social sangathan, Punjab, was held at Marigold Tourist Complex, Sanghol, near here today under the chairmanship of Punjab chairman Dr Charankamal Singh. In his address to members of his sangathan he said corruption always started from the top and it was urgent to stop this malpractice.



Industry flays PSEB proposal on tariff hike
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5
Industry representatives today condemned the proposal by the Punjab State Electricity Board regarding hike in power tariff for all categories of consumers.

“Industry in Punjab is already reeling under recession. Any further hike in tariff would not only affect operations and increase cost of production, it would render the industry uncompetitive in domestic and also global markets,” said Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings.

Alleging that instead of setting its own house in order, the chamber said the electricity board was being unjust by passing over the burden unnecessarily to customers and resorting to power tariff hike. It said instead of a tariff hike the PSEB needed to reduce transmission and distribution losses, incidents of theft and excess manpower.

Mr G.S. Kahlon, president, Auto Parts Manufacturers Association, said the PSEB increased power tariff in June this year by 15 per cent and the steep hike had an adverse impact on all categories of consumers. “A few months ago, the board imposed heavy penalties on medium and large scale industrial consumers due to low power factor, a financial burden that had already affected industry adversely,” Mr Singh pointed out.

The association said several types of taxes like VAT, service tax, excise duty etc had already put heavy burden on industry and the environment had become unconducive to industry’s growth.

Threatening to shift to other states in case the proposal of tariff hike was accepted, CICU said high input costs would make it impossible for industry to operate in Punjab. “It is feared that in case the tariff is increased as per the recommendation, the industry will have no option left but to shift to other states or close down,” said Mr Avtar Singh.

The chamber said in such a case, industry would first have to retrench workers, which could result in law and order problem as well.

Industrialists urged the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission not to accept the proposal of PSEB and said the regulatory commission should ask the electricity board to comply with the directions pertaining to curbing extra costs first.



Punjab ‘owes’ huge VAT refunds to industrialists
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 5
Resentment prevails among industrialists and businessmen over the failure of the Punjab Government to make VAT refunds. The Punjab Government owes Rs 700 crore as VAT refunds to the Ludhiana industry alone.

Inquiries showed that Finance Minister Surinder Singla had promised to make the refund of VAT without obtaining form H and C. But now the state excise and taxation authorities are insisting on these two forms.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan and Mr Avtar Singh, President and General Secretary, of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings said the industry was facing a lot of financial constraints and the failure of the state government to refund the huge VAT arrears had further precipitated the crisis. The Finance Minister had been making false premises with the industry and trade for the past nine months, they alleged.

The chamber had also opposed the levy of turnover tax instead of octroi.

Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani, President of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, has also opposed the proposal for turnover tax instead of octroi.



Biz Clips

Diwan Saheb:
Aiming to cater to increasing demand for fashionwear for men, Diwan Saheb would soon come up with an exclusive showroom in the city. A press note issued here today said the company had showrooms in London, Delhi and several other cities in India. The showroom would offer western and designer suits, shirts and trousers for formal and casual occasions. Diwan Saheb also offers a collection of sherwanis, bandhgalas and kurta-pyjama, dhoti-kurta with delicate and intricate hand embroidery in the golden and silver threads and also Swarovski embedded sherwanis.

Cotton county: The Nahar Group said it had attained its target of setting up 50 factory outlets of its recently launched brand, Cotton County. “The brand was launched in October and by March 2006 we expect to open more than 100 outlets offering this brand,”said Mr Sachin Sahni, brand manager, Cotton County in a press note.

LMA: The Ludhiana Management Association (LMA) will conduct a talk on ‘Immunology – Health and Problems’ on December 6 here. Dr Ranjit Kumar Chandra, president and Vice-Chancellor of Universite International des Sciences de la Sante, Switzerland, will deliver the talk, said the LMA.


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