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BJP, Left flay WTO meeting outcome
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties have denounced the outcome of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meet which concluded recently at Hong Kong. The party leaders maintained that the Central Government was trying to mislead the public opinion in the country and nothing had been gained there.

Senior BJP leader and a former Rajya Sabha member, Lala Lajpat Rai observed that the developed countries led by the United States had yet again managed to get their agenda imposed over the developing nations. He maintained that the issue of farm subsidies in the developed countries was still pending.

Mr Rai maintained that the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government must evolve a consensus about the WTO regime particularly in context of safeguarding the interests of the farming community in the country. He pointed out, India could ill afford to compromise the farmers’ interests as it would have a devastating impact on the agriculture, the bulwark of the Indian economy.

The BJP leader said, the country had still not woken up to the challenges the WTO regime would pose to the economy. He said, while the developed nations were safeguarding the interests of their own farmers by offering massive subsidies, they were trying to deny the same to the farmers of the developing countries. He warned that in case India did not see the writing on the wall, it would be too late to realise.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Dr Arun Mitra was more critical of the outcome maintaining that the claims being made by the Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath amounted to a “misplaced euphoria”. He said, the developed countries have promised that they would phase out all subsidies to the farmers in their countries by 2013. But again, he pointed out, “you cannot trust their word as they had made similar commitments about the nuclear non-proliferation and they never stuck to that. So there is no guarantee that they will phase out their subsidies by the year 2013”.

Not just on the agricultural front, Dr Mitra maintained, even on other industrial and production-related imports the developing countries like India have not gained anything. He said, “We are already facing the onslaught of cheap imports and the industry is reeling under severe pressure”. He demanded strong safety measures to safeguard the interests of the local, particularly the small-scale industry.



Badal mute spectator to division in party
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 22
The Akali Dal (Badal), Ludhiana, is a divided house and is witnessing an intense struggle for supremacy. President of the Shiromini Akali Dal Parkash Singh Badal is a silent spectator to all the happenings in the factional fight in the local Akali jatha. The intensity of the differences among the various leaders of the Akali jatha was witnessed during the election to the local committees of gurdwaras. The group led by Mr Hira Singh Gabria, president, city Akali jatha, has grabbed all the four seats, and the group led by Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, MLA, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP, and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, had to eat the humblepie in the election to the local committees.

The Ludhiana city jatha of the Akali Dal (Badal) has been witnessing quarrels among the leaders for the past many years and this war for supremacy continued even during the Akali Government in Punjab. Earlier, there were two groups — one headed by Mr Hira Singh Gabria, who is a loyalist of the late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, and the other group was led by Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, who had their allegiance with Mr Parkash Singh Badal. After the separation of Mr Badal and Jathedar Tohra, fight in the Akali Dal got intensified between Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar as they both wanted to grab the presidentship of the local jatha. Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar, veteran leader, was also with Mr Gabria.

After the patch-up between Mr Badal and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Hira Singh Gabria was made the president of the city Akali jathas as agreed in the agreement between the two leaders. Later Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Mr Hira Singh Gabria and Mr Avtar Singh joined hands to fight against the Jat lobby of Akali Dal led by Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha and Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon. Nearly two months ago Mr Avtar Singh Makkar was won over by the jat lobby and Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla, member, Punjab Public Service Commission, also played a major role in the new alignments. Mr Makkar was made to meet Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal who promised him a berth in the executive of the SGPC in the first instance and later elevation to the post of the president of the SGPC. It was like a lottery for Mr Makkar that he got the post of the presidentship of the elected sikh parliament.

As a matter of fact, the present struggle for supremacy in the local Akali Jatha is being waged keeping the Punjab Vidhan Sabha election 2007 in view. Mr Hira Singh Gabria is a Ramgarhia Sikh and has represented the Akali Dal from Ludhiana (rural) Vidhan Sabha segment in 1997 elections. The Garcha-Dhillon faction wants to bring Mr Simrajit Singh Bains as their nominee. Mr Amarjit Singh Chawla is also an aspirant for the Akali ticket from Ludhiana (West) which was won by Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal in 1997 election and he also remained minister in the Akali government. Mr Mahesh-Inder Singh Grewal left the government when Mr Badal and Jathedar Tohra fell-out.

The erstwhile Tohra loyalists are sore over the present tug-of-war in the Akali jatha as they feel that after the death of Jathedar Tohra they have accepted Mr Badal as their leader and are loyal to him. There is rather a feeling among the Tohra loyalists that Mr Badal is encouraging factionalism and following the policy of ‘divide and rule’ in Ludhiana which will harm the Akali Dal in the next Vidhan Sabha elections.

When the attention of Mr Parkash Singh Badal was drawn to the factionalism in the Ludhiana Akali jatha he said that he had asked Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder to look into the matter and bring about the needed unity in the jatha. It is worth mentioning here that Mr Badal makes very frequent visits to Ludhiana and also visits the houses of some of the Akali workers and leaders but has never made any attempt to make the warring factions sit together and resolve their differences.



Hosiery manufacturer accepts tax liability of Rs 30 lakh
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 22
A local hosiery manufacturer has surrendered an additional undisclosed income of Rs 90 lakh and accepted a tax liability of more than Rs 30 lakh after a day long income tax survey conducted on four different premises of the firm.

Mr M.N.A. Choudhry, Commissioner of Income Tax, told Ludhiana Tribune here today that surveys were conducted by as many as 24 officials of the department on four premises of the firm at Lakkar Bazar, Industrial Area-A, Sherpur and Capital Plaza on Mall Road yesterday on the basis of Income Tax return filed by the firm.

Four teams of officials, led by Mr Deepak Kapoor, Joint Commissioner, had carried out the survey till late in the evening during which period the books of accounts, computer data, stocks of finished goods and raw material were thoroughly inspected by the tax sleuths. The entry to and from the business premises during the survey operations was restricted and shutters of the showroom at Mall Road were closed for some time to carry out the survey without any interruption.

Sources in the department revealed that the yawning gap between the targeted revenue collection of Rs 1,150 crore by the end of this financial year and recovery of around Rs 400 crore so far was causing concern among the top brass. It was towards the objective of stepping up tax collection that the department had undertaken a number of surveys, besides search and seizure operations in the city to ensure tax compliance.

The department was keeping an eye on eyeing heavy spenders and a comprehensive data base of high value transactions was being prepared by the department to nab the tax evaders and make the assessees pay due taxes on their true income, sources added.



Foreign shores beckon holiday revellers
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
Foreign destinations have emerged as hot favourites among the fun loving Ludhianavis to spend the Christmas and New Year holidays. According to the local travel agents over 20 per cent increase has been witnessed this year in demand for international travel packages.

While cruises remain on top of the priority list, couple packages are also equally popular owing to the recent marriage season. Among the hot destinations are Singapore, Malaysia and Mauritius, besides European countries. A few adventurous travellers are also heading for Australia and New Zealand, say agents.

As of now, no bookings are available with various airlines between December 25 and 31 and due to high demand many residents had to drop their plans of celebrating Christmas and New Year at a foreign destination.

“Since air fares have come down drastically and travel to several international destinations has become cheaper in comparison to those for domestic destinations, people are opting for foreign destinations this year, said Mr Bhupesh Kumar, proprietor, Pristine Travels. He said for those who had booked 45 days prior to their date of travel, air fare for Singapore, for instance, was Rs 13,000, whereas it was Rs 23,000 for Goa, which explains the growing popularity of foreign destinations.

He said the maximum number of people had opted for cruise offers to Singapore and Malaysia. These cost Rs 49,000 per head, including three-night stay at each of these countries, two-day cruise, air ticket and one meal. Besides, independent packages for six days to Singapore and Malaysia, Mauritius and European countries too are among the favourite destinations. Though a 13-day trip to European countries would cost nothing less than Rs 1.10 lakh, the number of those opting for these trips too was not small.

“Christmas and New Year celebrations have much more zing abroad than in India which is why several people head for international destinations. In fact during these days, hotels in these countries usually increase their tariff. But this does not act as a deterrent,” said Mr Sandeep Khanna of Khadimz Travels.

Though an increasing number of city residents have planned a foreign trip yet the actual increase in the number of those going abroad could have been much more. “This is because several people start planning late. Ideally they should get their bookings done a month and a half in advance but we are getting inquiries even now. People here are yet to learn how to plan their holidays,” said Mr Kumar. This attitude is also behind several people choosing conventional destinations like Goa. “People here follow others and want to go either by their own previous experience or that of their friends and relatives,” said another travel agent.



Rly staff hold gate rally
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 22
Led by activists of Northern Railwaymens’ Union (NRMU), the railway employees today held a gate rally in front of Loco Shed here to mobilse their ranks for the proposed indefinite strike in February 2006 to press for the acceptance of their pending demands.

Addressing the rally, the Divisional Secretary of the union, Mr Daljit Singh, said the decision of indefinite strike would be ratified by the workers through a secret ballot and thereafter more than one lakh railway employees would serve a formal strike notice to the government. He claimed that other railway unions, including the All-India Railwaymens’ Federation and All-India Loco Running Staff Association, had also assured their total support in the event of NRMU, resorting to strike.

Other speakers, including Mr Ashok Kumar, Mr Raj Kumar, Mr Ghansham Singh and Mr Avtar Singh, warned the government that rail movement throughout the country would come to a halt if the pending demands of the employees were not accepted immediately. They demanded setting up of sixth Pay Commission forthwith, restructuring of pay scales with merger of 50 per cent DA in the salary, scrapping the recommendations of RAC Committee 2002 and revised pension scheme.

Former legislator Tarsem Jodhan criticised the anti-worker policies of UPA Government.



Clerk’s suicide: Principal’s arrest sought
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
Tension engulfed Khud Mohalla this afternoon, when the relatives and friends of a clerk posted at a school, had allegedly committed suicide yesterday morning. They staged a dharna in front of the school principal’s house. He was being accused of creating circumstances for his death.

The agitated mob stayed put for about an hour before the police succeeded in convincing them to lift the dharna. 



Missing traffic lights pose danger to motorists
Our Correspondent

Khanna, December 22
Missing traffic light poles at Malerkotla Chowk here, and their low maintenance by the Municipal authorities have caused traffic nuisance at many places in the town. At Malerkotla Chowk two traffic poles were broken in two different accidents several months ago. But the concerned authorities did not repair these poles which are causing inconvenience to common man.

The traffic lights at G.T. Road, here were installed by a social organisation 10 years ago at a cost of Rs 10 lakh. For these traffic lights, Bibi Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, the then Member of Parliament gave Rs 5 lakh from her MPLAD fund. These traffic lights were installed at five points which included Amloh Road Chowk, Lalheri Road Chowk, Railway Road Chowk, Samrala Road Chowk and Maler Kotla Chowk. The organisation, which installed them, handed over these lights to the Municipal Council for maintenance. In the beginning all lights worked properly. Due to accident the traffic light poles brokedown. The Municipal Council usually charges money for the damage from the owner of the accidental vehicle. The Municipal Council’s engineering department got these poles repaired. But for the past one year the council has not been maintaining these lights.

These lights are working properly at only two points out of the total five points. The worst condition is at Maler Kotla Chowk where three poles have been missing for several months now. These poles were damaged due to accidents. But the Municipal Council has failed to instal them again after repairing them. Two poles have been thrown beside the road by the authorities. One pole was damaged a month ago, which has not been repaired till now.

Mr Naresh Mehta, president of the Khanna Welfare Association, that installed these lights, said the council had failed to do its duty. He said the association wanted to get back the maintenance of these lights.

A constable posted in the traffic wing said he usually got tired physically and mentally while performing his duty at the Maler Kotla Chowk where the lights are missing.

Mr Najar Singh, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, Khanna, said in the next meeting the council would take up this matter. 



Seminar on fish farming begins
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
A two-day workshop on “Fisheries and aquaculture in Indus River Region-conservation, management and development of indigenous fish fauna” was yesterday inaugurated by PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh.

This workshop is jointly organised by Indian Society of Fisheries Professionals, Mumbai and PAU Department of Zoology and Fisheries.

Dr Aulakh said fish farming was a remunerative alternative and key component of diversification. Since Punjab had vast and varied resources like rivers, canals and village ponds these were well suited to aquaculture.

He said it was time to shift fish farming from land-based to water-based aquaculture, utilizing the land for agriculture and applying biotechnological techniques for crop production. Dr Aulakh emphasised on the production of cat-fish, prawns and ornamental fish as these had great demand in domestic and international markets. He urged the scientists to evolve “cost-effective and environmentally safe aquaculture management technologies pertaining to the Indus river region”.

Former Deputy Director General (Fisheries), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr P.V Dehadrai, who highlighted the importance of aquaculture, said it helped in conservation of water resources.

Director and Vice-Chancellor of Central Institute of Fisheries Education (CIFE), Mumbai, Dr Dilip Kumar, said fisheries should not be restricted to plains of India but expanded to water-based aquaculture. Stressing upon comprehensive approach for this occupation, he said that scientists should have a road map to achieve success in fish farming.

The former Vice-Chancellor, Sher-e-Kashmir University, Dr M.Y. Kamal, said as compared to all other crops, fish was the only one which did not consume water and fish farming had emerged as major part of agricultural diversification programme.

Dean, College of Basic Sciences and Humanities, Dr Tejwant Singh, welcomed the chief guest while Professor and Head, Department of Zoology and Fisheries, Dr. H.S. Sehgal, proposed a vote of thanks.



Canadian legislator concerned about drug abuse
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
Mr Bharat Agnihotri, a member of the legislative assembly in Alberta province of Canada, has expressed grave concern over the drug abuse prevailing in Punjab. Mr Agnihotri, who basically hails from Phagwara, is now settled in Canada. He was talking to The Tribune after being felicitated by the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch here last night.

The Canadian legislator has been a frequent visitor to Punjab. He along with some other associates, comes every year to organise a rural sports meet. He said the purpose was to maintain relationship with the roots and also to help youth.

He expressed concern over unemployment which led to several other problems. He said the Alberta Government was prepared to provide liberal aid for development projects in the developing countries and Punjab could avail this facility. The matching grants were to be provided by the local governments and the local organisations.

Mr Agnihotri said he was proud to be a Canadian citizen, while at the same time he could never afford to forget his roots. “It is probably the call of the roots that haunts me and I rush back here”, he disclosed while adding that the Canadian Government had done a lot for Punjabis. He disclosed that Punjabi as a language was being taught up to Class IX to students in Alberta province.

Earlier, welcoming him and his associates here, the chairman of the Punjab HOUSEFED and the Malwa Sabhyacharak Manch, Mr K.K. Bawa, said the trend among NRIs to serve their ancestral land was a welcome development. He pointed out that NRIs had launched a number of development projects across the state and a change was visible at these places.

Prominent among those present on the occasion were Dakha legislator, Malkiat Singh Dakha, Congress leaders Jeevan Dhawan, K.S. Kooner and Professor M.S. Cheema.



Bid to rape minor girl; three arrested
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 22
The Sudhar police has arrested three persons, including a married couple, for allegedly conspiring to abduct, detain illegally and make an attempt to rape a minor girl of Halwara. The accused have been sent to judicial custody till January 4.

According to the FIR lodged at Sudhar police station, Ramanjit Kaur (15) (false name) had been allegedly abducted by Karamjit Kaur, alias Rani, her husband Rajinder Singh Soni and her brother Jagjit Singh and thereafter detaining her for committing a rape by Rajinder so that she could be married permanently to her.

As Jagjit Singh had been coming to Halwara to meet her sister occasionally, he developed proximity to Ramanjit living in their neighborhood. When he expressed her wish to his sister the trio conspired to abduct the girl and forcibly marry her to Jagjit.

On December 16, when the parents of the girl had gone out for some job, the accused allured the minor girl and abducted her to Malerkotla. The accused, along with parents of Rani, forced the girl to participate in a garlanding ceremony held at a religious place that was termed a marriage by them. The accused arranged a room in Mairan Khuh area where Ramanjit was detained illegally and threatened of dire consequences in case she informed the police.

“Had we not reached the said room in time, the accused could have succeeded in molesting our daughter,” reported the parents of the victim to Mr Shawinder Singh SHO Sudhar, who registered a case under Sections 363, 366, 376 , 511, 342, 506 and 120 B of IPC.

According to Mr G. S. Aulakh, DSP, Raikot, a team led by SHO Sudhar had arrested the accused from various places. The accused were presented in the court from where they have been remanded to judicial custody till January 4, 2006.



Corruption cases shock city police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 22
The registration of cases of corruption, extortion and abuse of power against a number of cops of various ranks, including two SHOs and a CIA Wing-II in charge and a number of head constables, has shaken the police administration in the city.

The police-sponsored crime, which was on the wane in the past two years, has suddenly raised its ugly head again, with the shocking case of SI Warryam Singh, creating a record of sorts when he was booked in three separate cases of corruption in one day only at the Focal Point police station only, where he served as SHO.

DIG Ludhiana Range Parag Jain called an emergent meeting today morning and explained in clear terms that corruption in police uniform was intolerable. He said a few black sheep had tarnished the image of the force, which was otherwise doing a wonderful job in crime detection and prevention.

The DIG rued that the city police was well-equipped to take action against corruption and the senior officials have to pull up the ranks.

Meanwhile, tainted cop SI Warryam Singh has went into hiding, with the Flying Squad teams of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau conducting raids in the city to nab him. The city police has also reportedly declared him absent from duty and appointed SI Surinder Mohan as SHO of the Focal Point police station.

Even as the “Khakki Taliban” was provoking public outrage in Meerut, the ugly face of the police sponsored crime has raised its head once again in the city, with the registration of three cases against the SHO for various offences of corruption and extortion, misusing his office and abuse of power.

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau nominated him as the main accused in the infamous money minting cops case in which two head constables were earlier booked. Besides he has also been booked in another case of corruption in the Focal Point police station on the complaint of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

Mr M.S. Chhinna, SP, Vigilance told Ludhiana Tribune that Warryam Singh the main accused police officer, who was allegedly extorting money by falsely implicating innocent persons.

In another FIR, he has been booked on the charges of using case property vehicles for extortion purposes.



ASI nabbed on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Amloh, December 22
The Vigilance Bureau led by DSP Jaspal Singh claims to have nabbed an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Amarjeet Singh posted at Amloh police station, red-handed on Wednesday for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 from a woman Amarjeet Kaur, resident of Amloh. It is alleged by the complainant, Amarjeet Kaur that ASI had demanded Rs 5,000 to settle the divorce case between her son Salamdeen and his wife Suphia Begam alias Rani. The Vigilance team took the ASI with them to Fatehgarh Sahib.


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