L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Ruckus in MC House over demand for CBI probe
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 13
The issue of mysterious death of a municipal councillor of Mandi Ahmedgarh, whose body was found in a canal near here eight months ago, rocked a meeting of council today, when two councillors demanded a CBI inquiry into the sequence of events leading to his death and accused the president of shielding the accused by not incorporating their demand in the proceeding register.

Mr Jatinder Bholla, the newly-elected president, who was chairing the meeting, however, maintained that he himself was in favour of a probe by an independent agency like other councillors but the item could not be placed on agenda for obvious reasons.

During proceedings of the meeting of the council, Mr Ashutosh Vinayak and Mr Jaswinder Sodhi, both councillors asked the president to include a demand for a CBI inquiry into the death of Sham Sunder Jain in the minutes of the meeting. Sham Sunder’s body was found in Sirhind canal eight months ago.

Quite a ruckus was created at the meeting when the president declined to incorporate the demand in the proceeding claiming that he had already included two demands raised in zero hour of the meeting that addressed welfare issues of the town. He added that as per rules, he could not include more than two items.

Following this two councillors protested and accused him of shielding the accused. Later Mr Jatinder Bholla held that he along with all other councillors and leaders of the town had been demanding a similar inquiry but it was not under the purview of the council to urge the government for interfering in the cases where investigations were going on.

‘‘It is on record that I like certain other councillors had been demanding similar inquiries into the sequence of events leading to Sham Sunder’s death. Rather we have been joining investigations undertaken by various agencies, including the state police, for which final reports were yet to be submitted,’’ said Mr Bholla.

Sham Sunder had disappeared on the evening of May 3 and his body was fished out of a nearby canal the next day. The local police had registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC on the statement of Mr Gaurav Jain who had apprehended that his father might have committed suicide due to financial constraints. He had turned hostile later and said his father could have been murdered. The police registered another case of murder against unidentified persons.

The family of the deceased, accompanied by some members of an action committee, had approached the Governor, Punjab, to seek a CBI inquiry into the case. They had accused the local MLA and her husband, who is in the police, of influencing investigations in the case.

Though an inquiry by the crime branch of the police was ordered by the ADGP (Admn), the Chief Minister, Punjab, had redirected the case to the IG, Patiala, as an MLA was involved and the officer concerned, according to him, had superseded his powers.

Acting on the directions of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr S.M. Sharma, IG, Patiala, had initiated investigations into a case registered against unidentified persons under Section 302 for allegedly murdering Sham Sunder.

He had assured the local residents and representatives of various organisations that his team would not succumb to any pressure and investigate the case in an unbiased manner.



Bridges without fencing threat to life
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 13
The Public Works Department (Bridges and Roads) seems to have learnt no lesson from the road accidents caused due to the inadequate fencing on bridges on the busy main road and link roads of this area. While clash barriers were constructed on some of the bridges on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road after a number of vehicles carrying passengers plunged into drains no attention had been paid to fence bridges on link roads joining the local town with Ludhiana city.

A survey by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the indifferent attitude of the authorities in the PWD (B and R) had resulted in a large number of accidents, some of them fatal. The tragedies were averted by timely help by public in some cases.

A major tragedy was averted, when a PRTC bus carrying more than 40 passengers had fallen in a drain situated near Akbarpur Chhanna village on the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road allegedly due to the non-existence of sidewalls on the bridge. It was after the accident that the authorities awakened and constructed barriers on both sides of the bridge. At least a dozen vehicles were reported to have fallen in the drain during recent years, but the authorities took notice only after this incident. The PWD authorities were so scared this time that the construction work was undertaken the same night when the bus fell in the drain.

The condition of bridges on links roads joining the local town with Ludhiana, Malerkotla and Raikot is so bad that at places not even a single brick has been installed in the name of a guard rail. The road joining Ghungrana village with the Dehlon-Pakhowal road through Bahmanmajra passes through a nullah, without any bridge. A bridge proximal to the busy crossing on the Pakhowal - Dehlon road and the Ahmedgarh- Kilaraipur road lacked a barricade.

Apprehending serious accidents due to poor visibility during approaching foggy season, residents of the area have urged the local leaders of various political parties to impress upon the authorities to give immediate attention to the repairs and construction of clash barriers on the sensitive spots to save precious lives of the commuters and people coming from other areas.



Suspended students try to disrupt college exam
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 13
Students appearing for the mid-term examination at Arya College here got disturbed today when a few suspended students tried to disrupt the smooth functioning of the college. A minor altercation took place between the Principal, Dr S.M.Sharma, and the suspended students, however, the matter was sorted out when Dr Sharma asked them to call their parents at the earliest.

According to Dr Sharma, a few students of the college along with certain outsiders entered the college premises with certain weapons on December 8 in his absence. A formal complaint regarding the incident was lodged at the Chowki Number 8 the same day. The college students who accompanied the outsiders with weapons were suspended by the Principal till further orders.

“The agitating students came to me today to ask the reason for their suspension. They were told to call their parents. Mr Vijay Sarthi, president of the Managing Committee, also met the students and gave them a patient hearing. The matter would be sorted out once we meet their parents”, said Dr Sharma.



Playing with careers for quick bucks
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, December 13
The careers of thousands of students in the state who pursue their studies through distance learning programmes from unaffiliated universities seems to be at stake. According to sources, universities which have got UGC recognition are running certain courses and programmes whose degrees are not recognised.

A majority of educationists have held the state government responsible of playing with the careers of students. Despite paying attention to higher education, the government has provided a clean chit to private players to run their colleges and universities in the state. Several universities from outside the state have sprouted in the region, offering unrecognised degrees to students.

Without the approval of the UGC or the Distance Education Council, these universities have coined their own degrees by compromising with the standard of education. A sources has admitted that this has become one of the most lucrative businesses.

“These private players get a return of between 250 and 300 per cent after one year, which no other business or service offers. Why should they get bothered whether degrees are recognised or not when they are minting money and no authority is there to check them? They are not running as per the guidelines of the UGC. Hundreds of working and non-working students are studying through distance learning programmes. What is the fun spending thousands on courses when these are not recognised outside the state?”

Some of these universities offer 100 per cent pass results to the students at the time of filling in forms. “Several students are pursuing a professional, technical or general education programme through distance education without checking the credentials of the university or the institute. The state government should do something to curb this practice to save the careers of students,” says Mr Tarsem Bahia, educationist and Senate member.



Rs 8-crore customs duty fraud detected
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 13
The preventive wing of the Customs Department here has unearthed a case of fraudulent payment of duty through non-existent duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) scrips by a custom clearing agency at Container Freight Station.

The evasion of duty in fraudulent transactions was stated to be around Rs 6.57 crore and interest of Rs 1.54 crore in addition to the penalty to be decided in due course.

Two accused in the scam — Ankush Khullar and Kapil Oberoi of M/s Jai Bhole Impex Pvt Ltd were arrested and produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate here today, who remanded them in the custody of the department.

Giving more details, Mr Amit Goel, Joint Commissioner of Customs, said the accused were forging the signatures of customs officials, responsible for the adjustment of DEPB's. The clearing agency, run by the accused, was not only causing loss to the government exchequer but apparently the importers were also being cheated because the customs duty was being collected from them which was not being paid to the department.

According to Mr Goel, the department had already made a recovery of Rs 6.84 crore, which included Rs 3.38 crore from the clearing agency and another Rs 3.48 crore from 18 firms, on whose behalf the goods were cleared without the payment of duty. He said the process was on to raise the demand of customs duty evaded by the clearing agents from the concerned importers and every efforts was being made to make good the loss of government revenue.



Amarinder govt most corrupt: Badal
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal seem to have taken upon themselves the task of ousting the Congress government led Capt Amarinder Singh in the next Vidhan Sabha elections scheduled to be held in February, 2007. This was evident from the tenor of the speeches both father and son made at a religious congregation at historic gurdwara of Raikot, 45 km from here yesterday.

Both father and son called upon the people of Punjab to throw out the Congress from Punjab in the next Vidhan Sabha elections and promised that they would mitigate their problems.

They said the present Congress government in the state was the most corrupt government the people of Punjab had ever seen. The occasion for congregation was provided by Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi, MLA of Raikot, who had organised an akhand path to thank the Almighty for his speedy recovery from sickness and also thank the people of the area who had prayed for his recovery. Mr Ranjit Singh had gone to the USA for his treatment and was there for two months.

Senior Akali leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, secretary general, Capt Kanwajit Singh, former Finance Minister, and Mr Sharenjit Singh Dhillon, MP, and Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, general secretary of the Akali Dal, were also present and addressed the gathering. Mr Bhag Singh Malla and Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLAs, also participated in the function.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal alleged that the Amarinder Singh government was shamelessly indulging in corruption and was hand in glove with the moneyed people. The state was witnessing scam after scam and the ruling political leadership was a partner in the same.

He mentioned that Mr Bir Devinder Singh had levelled serious allegations of corruption against a senior Congress minister and instead of taking action against the minister, Mr Bir Devinder Singh was issued a show-cause notice.

Mr Badal also demanded that enquiry into Volcker scam should include the son of the Chief Minister of Punjab too as he was involved in the same along with Mr Natwar Singh, his son and Andy Sehgal.

Mr Badal also lashed out at the Congress government Punjab for its failure to meet the demands of the people and alleged that it was playing fraud with the people and particularly farmers on the question of providing free power supply. He said all power bills of the farmers were being counted in their names.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Badal claimed that the Punjab Government had failed to collect any evidence of his family members having amassed wealth to the tune of Rs 3,600 crore and not an inch of land had been found in foreign countries in their name. He said he was not afraid of the false propaganda by the Chief Minister and his men.

Mr Badal reiterated that Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal would not contest the Vidhan Sabha elections and was not chief ministerial candidate. Mr Sukhbir Singh would serve people for some time more and only then think of becoming Chief Minister.

Asked out the plank of the Akali Dal for the Vidhan Sabha elections, Mr Badal said they would prepare the election manifesto and also give out the ways and means to achieve the promises.

Regarding the establishment of the defence academy in Patiala, Mr Badal said this was false propaganda and the Centre would not set it up in Punjab.

Earlier, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, former President of the SGPC, welcomed the participants.

Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi also thanked the people and the leaders for their participation in the congregation and praying for his early recovery.



SAD men win, party is the loser
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
In a major setback to the SGPC chief, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, two of the three candidates fielded by his group lost in the elections to the local gurdwara managing committee. The rival group, led by the district president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, and the district senior vice-president, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, won all three seats for which it fielded candidates.

The elections to the gurdwara committees were held on December 11. Although no candidate was allotted party symbol, all parties had fielded their official candidates. The group led by Mr Gabria fielded Mr Sarbjit Singh, Mr Mohan Singh and Mr Manjit Singh Tony.

The group led by the SGPC chief fielded Mr Harjinder Singh, Mr Manmohan Singh Sibbal and Mr Teja Singh. Only Mr Harjinder Singh won. The SAD had always been a divided house in Ludhiana, with polarisation between the two groups. For a while, the two rival leaders had buried the hatchet, but the honeymoon appeared shortlived.

The SAD could derive little solace from the fact that all four candidates who won belonged to it. Questions were being raised over the partisan stand of Mr Makkar even after becoming SGPC President. Supporters of Mr Gabria claimed that Mr Makkar had worked for the defeat of other candidates though they had been supported by the party.



Low tax collections: IT dept eyes shopping buffs
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 13
Concerned over disproportionate tax collection from the industrial and business hub of the state despite a buoyant economy, the Income Tax Department here is eyeing high-spenders and contemplates taking appropriate measures to make the assesses file returns reflecting their true income and pay due taxes.

This was stated by Mr R. S. Mathoda, the newly-appointed Chief Commissioner of Income Tax (CCIT) while addressing a press conference at Aaykar Bhawan here today.

He said in the Ludhiana Commissionerate, comprising Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Khanna, Phagwara, Moga, Nawanshahr and Malerkotla, the number of income tax returns filed during the last financial year was around 6.10 lakh while till November this year, a little more than 4.58 lakh returns were received.

Mr Mathoda expressed his dissatisfaction over the dismal number of persons showing annual income of more than Rs 10 lakh in the city. "Ludhiana is known for lavish expenditure and ostentatious display of wealth during marriages, property acquisition and purchase of luxury vehicles. But the tax collection from the city is grossly disproportionate."

He said only about 1,300 returns, showing income in excess of Rs 10 lakh were filed by the business community in Ludhiana whereas the comparative figure for a city like Jalandhar was 550. Elaborating steps to bring the high-spenders in the tax net, the CCIT said the department was collecting information from different sources, including banks, real estate developers, vehicle dealerships and expensive stores in the mega city. "Action possibly by way of surveys and searches will be undertaken in suitable high transaction cases."

The annual tax collection target for the current year from Ludhiana Charge, Mr Mathoda added, was Rs 1,150 crore and so far the collection was approximately Rs 400 crore. The department was closely monitoring the corporate installments of advance tax vis-a-vis the quarterly unaudited results published by the corporate sector.

"The boom in real estate as well as construction of speciality and shopping malls clearly indicated huge surplus income being generated, but the same was not being reflected in terms of corresponding increase in the tax collections.

Elaborating steps taken to unearth concealed income, the CCIT disclosed that till November this year, 104 search and survey operations were conducted which had resulted in detection of substantial amount of concealed income. "Large scale surveys have also been conducted to detect high-spenders recently which are expected to yield rich dividends."

He urged the members of trade and industrial community not to wait for the taxmen to use intrusive methods of detecting tax evasion, instead, the assesses themselves should come forward to improve the tax compliance. He clarified that though the intention of the department was not to be harsh, but at the same time, its reaction depended upon the tax payers response.

"The motto of the department is to be fair and helpful to the tax-payers but we will be efficient and strict against the tax payers who are unfair and non-cooperating," Mr Mathoda remarked.



Anti-WTO rally organised
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
To build up a strong all- India movement against the Hong Kong meeting of the World Trade Organisation, the Joint Platform of Mass Organisations (JPMO) today held a massive rally at Chattar Singh Park here. Later, the protesters moved to the District Courts complex and staged a demonstration.

Addressing the rally Mr Tarsem Jodhan, former MLA, said that during this sixth ministerial conference of the WTO, the main agenda to be discussed was “Agreement on modalities for trade in agriculture and industrial products and further opening of trade in services”. He said this would be very harmful and disastrous for the under-developed and developing countries.

He said the highly developed “imperialist countries” would encourage the corporate and contract farming in the under-developed and developing countries like India. This would deprive the Indian farmers of their ancestral profession and land and render thousands of people jobless.

He said the under-developed countries would be put under further pressure at the meeting by the USA and the European Union. He pointed out, “these imperialist powers who now spend $ 7 billion on agricultural subsidies have declared their unwillingness to reduce these before 2012”.

And the under-developed countries will be forced to reduce these subsidies under the umbrella of the green box, blue box and livelihood boxes. Similarly, in the services sector, privatisation of banks, insurance, health, education, and railways would be enforced so that MNCs may easily enter this sector. Industrial products are also on the agenda to be discussed.

Mr Jodhan said the UPA government led by the Congress was surrendering the sovereignty of the country by succumbing to patent laws and introducing the Seed Bill.



MC for cut in water, sewerage rates
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 13
The local Municipal Council resolved unanimously to reduce sewerage and water supply rates, besides approving many development projects for the town at a general business meeting held here today.

Mr Jatinder Kumar Bhola, president of the council, said all councillors present at the meeting had given approval to all items of the agenda. “If the Local Body Directorate approves the proposals, the residents will enjoy a reduction of the sewerage and water supply rates that had been enhanced on the directions of the government by the earlier incumbent,” said Mr Bhola.

Some councillors, including Mr Mohammad Yaseen, Mr Kishori Lal Badhan, Mr Jagwant Singh Jaggie, Ms Chiter Rekha Sharma and Ms Ramandeep Kaur, had proposed that the rates should be decreased to Rs 30 for water supply and Rs 20 for sewerage per month. The councillors had referred to the people-friendly rates being charged by the councils in the nearby towns.

To improve sanitation and public utilities, the council approved projects worth about Rs 40 lakh. “The sanitation and utilities will improve with the construction of new roads and drains that had been brought to the notice of the councillors of the respective wards,” stated Mr Bhola.

Water tanks, garbage containers and trolleys, proposed today, when put into service would help have a clean and healthy environment, claimed the president.

The meeting was important in view of its being the first after the election of Mr Bhola as president. While the councillors welcomed his new incumbency, the president thanked them for the faith posed in him and sought their cooperation in running the affairs of the council.



Lack of amenities irk Basant Avenue residents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
Residents of Basant Avenue have been ruing the state of neglect of the colony. Members of the Basant Avenue Welfare Society allege that all rules, it seems have been thrown to the winds while approving the colony as no care is taken of various amenities needed in a residential colony.

In a statement here today, the society members alleged that there was no garbage disposal system for maintaining cleanliness in the colony. The roads, it said, were poorly maintained and the parks were in a state of total neglect. They alleged that even the space earmarked for the religious places had been changed in alleged connivance with PUDA officials.

The society members claimed that they had brought the matter to the notice of the PUDA authorities several times. “But all our representations and pleadings seem to have fallen on deaf ears”, they regretted while hoping that the PUDA authorities may wake up and provide them with all the basic amenities expected of them.



Three booked in dowry case

Khanna, December 13
The Payal police has booked three persons, including a woman, under Section 498-A of the IPC on the complaint of Ms Hardeep Kaur against her mother-in-law Manjit Kaur, father-in-law Harbhajan Singh and husband Gurdeep Singh.

According to the police, the complainant stated that she was married to Gurdeep Singh eight years ago at Sirthla village. She alleged that after some time, her in-laws started harassing her to bring more dowry. She added that never talked to her parents about it and gave birth to three children.

The complainant alleged that her husband and his parents demanded Rs 70,000 from her parents and her in-laws beat her up and throw her out of the house. — OC



Bid to rob Punjab National Bank
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
Some unidentified robbers tried to decamp with valuables at Basti Jodhewal branch of Punjab National Bank here last night.

They, however, could not break open the strong room of the bank.

They broke open the locks of a door opening in the staircase and some almirahs in the main hall.

But they could not take away anything.

The employees of the bank found the locks broken in the morning when they reached the bank.

They informed the police about it. Investigations are on in the case.



Girl was raped, says report
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
The police has identified the minor girl, who was allegedly raped and found from an agricultural field near Jassian village yesterday.

She is a resident of a colony near Civil Hospital. The medical checkup has confirmed that she was raped. The police is investigating the case as the girl was found from near Jassian village though she is a resident of far away colony near Civil Hospital. Police sources said the alleged rapist had either taken her to that place or had dumped her there after raping her.

She was spotted by two women labourers who had gone to the field for some work yesterday.



Woman murdered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 13
A six-month pregnant migrant woman was allegedly found murdered from near Jaspal Bangar village here today.

The post-mortem conducted on her revealed that she had strangulation marks on her neck. She has not been identified as yet. Doctors said she was around 21.


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