L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Innocent man spends 15 months in jail
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Eagerness of the police to solve a theft case and the suspicion of an industrialist has cost an innocent factory employee about 15 months of freedom.

The victim, a migrant from Bihar, had to spend these months in jail even as the police had busted a gang that had confessed of committing the nickel theft, for which the man was falsely implicated. He was arrested in October 2004, and released from the jail in the last week of January this year.

No body is being held responsible for the alleged wrong done to the victim, Ajay Lal, who used to work in General Metal Industries, owned by Mr Joginder Kumar, who is also the president of the Ludhiana Electroplaters Association.

While the police shrugs of the blame of putting an innocent man behind bars arguing that the man was arrested on the complaint of Mr Kumar only, who, however, has demanded a CBI inquiry on why the police booked him without proper verification.

He stresses that his nickel has also not been recovered till date. The industrialist is the one who had informed the media about the injustice meted out to Ajay.

It was in October 2004, that huge amount of nickel was stolen from the factory. One of his employees, Ajay, had gone missing after the theft that put him under suspicion. However, he returned after a couple of days claiming he had no role in the theft and had gone away due to some personal problem.

Mr Kumar told Ludhiana Tribune that as a dutiful citizen, he handed him over to the Division No 6 police. The police booked him for the theft and sent him to jail after taking a day’s police remand. Nothing was recovered from him.

Later, in April 2005, SP-Detective Gurpreet Singh claimed in a press conference that four members of an alleged 28-member gang of thieves, who used to steal the expensive nickel metal from various factories, have been caught.

The police had claimed that the gang had committed thefts in units, including Appu International, General Metal Industry, Rocky Industry and Avtar Singh and Joginder Kumar Industries.

The nabbed gangsters were listed as Shiv Kumar, alias Hira Lal, from Bihar, Rakesh Kumar, alias Raju, from Uttar Pradesh, Ram Kumar, alias Raj Kumar, from Uttar Pradesh and Ram Bahadur, alias Kishan Bahadur, from Nepal. The police had claimed that some quantity of nickel was recovered from them.

This proved that Ajay was not guilty for the theft and was wrongly charged. However, work moved on at snail’s pace for his release and it was only in late January this year that he was released.

The SP said the police was not at fault. “We have a signed statement of Mr Joginder Kumar that he suspected Ajay of the theft in his factory”, he said, adding, “When the police got the real accused arrested, the process for discharging Ajay had begun. But it takes some time for the legal formalities to be completed”.

Mr Kumar said he had merely raised a suspicion, but never intended the innocent man to be put behind bars for such a long time. He also claimed that it was on his instance only that the police began the process of discharging Ajay.

“The police just booked and arrested him. They could not make out during the questioning that the man was innocent. I had given the statement at the instance of the police only”, said Mr Kumar.



Punjab likely to attain 6 pc growth rate: Singla
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Punjab is likely to attain a growth rate of 6 per cent this year, Finance Minister Surinder Singla said today. He claimed that “sound and effective” policies of the Congress government had made the growth possible.

“Had it not been for the huge debt the government pays Rs 65 crore every month to State Bank of India (SBI), that mounted in the BJP-SAD regime, the state would have witnessed much better growth and infrastructure on par with international standards,” Mr Singla said, while addressing a state-level small savings function, here.

He said committed liabilities, — salaries, pension and interest — which were 78 per cent of the revenue in 1997, rose to 118 per cent in the Akali government’s regime, putting a heavy financial burden on the state.

“When the government is bankrupt, every person in a state has to face the situation. That happened whenever Akalis came to power. We managed to lead the state to a growth path and all the fiscal indicators portray a positive position. If this growth is to continue, it is important that finances are managed well,” he asserted.

Mr Singla also said small savings were the most effective form of investing one’s money. “The share of small savings can increase manifold if awareness is generated about risk, return and tax benefit factors among people, in which small savings have an upper edge in comparison to other options.”

Condemning the banks for “eroding Punjab’s money and utilising it for development in other states”, he said the issue would assume larger proportions if something concrete was not done to stop it.

“There is no death of money in Punjab. What pains us is that banks collect money here and it is used in other states. They are transferring the wealth of Punjabis to other states. This would become a serious issue when people start feeling strongly about it,” he maintained.

Exhorting small savings agents to gear up, he said they needed to tell people about the risk involved if they invested in share markets or mutual funds and of the low interest rates that banks offered. He also assured them that he would discuss the demands put by agents pertaining to incentive and commission with the Finance Minister Mr P. Chidambram.

“I will surely give you bonus if you attain the target this year that has been set for small savings,” he promised.

The minister also gave away prizes to the winners of the 28th lucky coupon scheme. The winners for the 29th lucky coupon scheme by the Small Savings Department were also announced today.



Concealed income of Rs 4.3 cr surrendered
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, February 9
Following survey operations carried out by income tax officials on business premises of six industrial houses in the city and another at Mandi Ahmedgarh yesterday, the firms concerned volunteered to surrender a total concealed income of Rs 4.3 crore.

Officials of Range I, II, IV and V of Ludhiana Chief Commissionerate struck simultaneously at business premises of these firms in different localities of the city and surveys continued till early hours this morning.

The Mansarover Group, comprising Mansarover Forgings and Mansarover Impex, surrendered an additional income of Rs 1 crore, Khalsa Cotsyn and Sohana Woolen Mills Rs 1.21 crore, Partap Engineering and Partap Cycles Rs 75 lakh, Auto Forge and Alloy Forge Rs 1.04 crore and Shakti Industries at Mandi Ahmedgarh Rs 30 lakh. All these firms had undertaken to clear the additional tax liability of almost Rs 1.5 crore by March 15.

In the face of staggering revenue collection target of Rs 1150 crore for the current financial year, pressure would be maintained to unearth tax evasion under the Ludhiana Chief Commissionerate. The department was learnt to have collected Rs 700 crore so far.

The Department of Income Tax had prepared a comprehensive data base of high-value transactions with inputs from commercial banks, stock exchange, mall plazas and other high-end stores in the region. As a follow-up measure to mop up tax collection, notices were issued to a large number of firms and individuals to prove that the transactions were accounted for.

Suitable action under provisions of the Income Tax Act would be taken against those found to be evading taxes.



Power situation likely to worsen in summer
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
For people suffering due to power problems, summer will be no better. As rise in demand is all-time high, estimates portray much higher demand and the situation is likely to worsen.

According to sources, against an average rise of around 8 per cent every year, demand increased by more than 18 per cent this winter. The power demand is around 900 lakh units per day in the state. This will double in summer. “The average daily demand in the state these days is around 900 lakh units, which is an increase of at least 18 per cent from the previous year. This increase is more than double of what was expected and that is one of the main reasons for unscheduled power cuts,” the sources said.

As a result of power shortage, daily unscheduled cuts in winter this time stretched to even as long as eight hours. The situation not only added to residents problems, but also caused heavy industrial losses. Long unscheduled cuts worried residents and the industry as last summer they had a bitter experience with power.

While the board manages around 800 lakh units by way of generation and purchases from outside the state, there is a shortfall of 120 lakh units every day.

The shortage is being attributed to a couple of reasons, including the non-functioning of two units of the thermal plant in Ropar, the Mukerian hydel project lying closed, Ranjit Sagar Dam undergoing maintenance work and very less power supply from the Shanan Hydel Power Project in Himachal Pradesh. Adding to it is rise in demand, which has been more than estimated this time.

Officials point out that due to rise in the cost of diesel, several industrial units that used generator sets for operations, switched to routine power supply from the electricity board.

The situation in summer is likely to worsen further as not only will there be routine increase in demand, the government is also planning to sanction 80,000 tube well connections in the state, which will increase the demand by around 100 lakh units.

“If the government does not make alternate arrangements, electricity consumers will have to bear the brunt on account of shortage,” said sources.



Upset with the media
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
Mr Surinder Singla appeared upset with the media today. During the function, he abruptly shifted to newspapers and said: “You can get anything written in newspapers these days. While one day they will sing paeans about a certain company, you learn that the company has vanished after two years.”

The minister, who did not go into details of the reasons for failure of companies, also asked a cameraman to stop recording his speech during the function. He later refused to talk to journalists.



Stop immigrants with foul intentions, urges Canadian NRI
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 9
Mr Dinesh Kumar Sharma, a Canada-based NRI has urged social and constitutional organisations of the state to impress upon immigrants not to go abroad with the intention of practicing illegal methods to make money and then escaping to their native places.

The trend has degraded the position of NRIs who had been enjoying an esteemed position there, he said.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Dinesh Sharma alleged that certain Punjabis, after immigrating to Canada duped some financial institutes, including insurance companies to the tune of crores by declaring themselves bankrupt and then leaving the country. "Though the financial institutes, thus duped do not hunt the defaulters normallybut it affects the reputation of other NRIs adversely," claimed Mr Sharma.

Mr Sharma apprehended that the Canadian government and embassy would resort to rigid parameters at the time of sanctioning cases of immigration of even genuine persons in future. "As they have no means to check the integrity of the permit seekers on various grounds, the authorities would be left with suspecting the veracity of every Indian desirous of immigration to their country," argued Mr Sharma, adding, it would degrade us on the international level.

The NRI cited many success stories of Punjabis who had immigrated to Canada in search of greener pastures and were well established there. "The only qualification for long-lasting success is determination supplemented with skill and talent. The more you work, themore prosperous you become; is the norm there," maintained Mr Sharma.

Referring to the decision taken by some NRI associations in his area, Mr Sharma disclosed they had resolved to identify and isolate those elements who had gone to Canada with some ulterior motive.



Vets resent interference
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
The Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association has taken exception to unwarranted interference by the Punjab Dairy Development Department in the working of the Animal Husbandry Department.

A meeting of the state executive of the association held here yesterday under the presidentship of Dr Ashok Sharma observed with regret that the Dairy Development Department was not only interfering in the day to day working of the Animal Husbandry Department but also trying to snatch some duties that were not in their purview.

“The Dairy Development Department is specifically meant for milk procurement and dairy products but they are impressing upon the higher officials to allow their workers duty of artificial insemination of milch animals,” the association members noted.

Dr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, patron, Dr T.P. Saini, senior state president, Dr Nirmaljit Singh, general secretary, along with office-bearers from all district units of the association and all Deputy Directors of animal husbandry were present in the specially convened meeting.

Giving details of deliberations, the press secretary of the association, Dr Paramjeet Singh, informed that presently the artificial insemination of cows and buffaloes was primarily being done by veterinary doctors and pharmacists of the Animal Husbandry Department. In a bid to usurp this task, the Dairy Development Department was planning to depute ‘gopal mitras’ (lay inseminators) with a few days training and granting them licences for inseminating the precious livestock in the state.

Addressing the meeting, the association functionaries, including Dr Sharma and Dr Chahal, said already quacks were destroying the high yielding cows and buffaloes since these inseminators had little or no knowledge of the physiology and anatomy of the livestock. If cows were roaming in streets and villages of the state, it was all due to these lay inseminators, who were permitted to play with the lives of animals.



‘Punjab on fast track of development’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The state government has chalked out a comprehensive plan to create more than 15 lakh employment opportunities for unemployed youth and around 10 lakh such opportunities have been created in the industrial sector by clearing 122 big projects with an investment of more than Rs 54,000 crore.

This was stated by Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, while addressing a rural gathering on the concluding day of the 53rd sports tournament organised by the Young Sports Club at Budhewal village, 20 km from here, last evening. The Parliamentary Secretary said special training courses for various vocations were being launched by setting up training academies in all districts. These academies were being launched for the unemployment youth to train them in new ventures so that they could avail of the large scale employment opportunities created in corporate and other private sectors with fast developments in computer and information technology.

He said Rs 400 crore was being released under the Punjab Nirman Programme for development projects in rural and urban areas in the state. He said the government had embarked upon an ambitious programme to provide 100 per cent coverage of drinking water supply in 117 towns and 100 per cent sewerage facility in 37 towns of the state under the Municipal Development Fund by spending Rs 991 crore by March 31, 2007. Mr Dawar said eight hours of regular power supply was also ensured to the farmers for irrigation of paddy, even by purchasing power costing to Rs 1,600 crore from other states. Mr Dawar announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the club. 



Sarabha Ladies Club celebrates Valentine
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
The Sarabha Nagar Ladies Club celebrated the festival of Basant Panchmi and Valentines together, here, today. A dance performed by Rimpy, Meenakshi Sethi, Nannu, Jyotsana, Puneet, Preeti, Chetna Sheenam Walia and Manju Sethi charmed the members.

Club members honoured Jitesh Vaid, winner of Mission Udaan, a competition organised by the National Geographic. The club team members were also honoured.



Dharna against VB interference
Our Correspondent

Amloh, February 9
Members of six unions of the Panchayati Raj Department of Amloh block staged a dharna in front of the local Block Development and Panchayat Office today.

Addressing the activists, Mr Khushwinder Singh of the Panchayat Secretary Union, flayed the interference of the Vigilance Bureau (VB) in the functioning of the department.

The unions urged the state government to implement the assurances given at the time of the dharna on February 6 at Matka Chowk in Chandigarh to withdraw the cases against sarpanches, panches and officials of the department and to stop the interference of the bureau in the functioning of the department.



Many fall sick due to turbid water supply
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
A number of business establishments and offices in Bhadaur House Market, including the local Tribune office, are receiving turbid water for the past some days.

While many people are already suffering from gastric problems owing to contamination of water, the officials of the local civic body seem to have failed to find out the cause of problem.

Despite repeated complaints, there seems to be no respite from this problem. Two days ago, a team of Municipal Corporation employees had visited the area to find out the problem, but they could not help matters.

Many shopkeepers and employees of various offices are reporting with gastric problems. Mr Dinesh Chander, a restaurant owner in the market, said the water being supplied was so dirty and smelly that they were filling buckets from other areas to make sure that people eating in their restaurant did not fall sick.

He added that the water filter in his unit got damaged after filtering dirty water for so many days. He reported to the filter company only to be told by them that the machine was actually filtering mud.

The shopkeepers said earlier they were told by corporation employees that there was a fault in their private pipeline. “I got it checked. We cleaned our water tank also. We were left confused, but later many shopkeepers told me that they were also receiving dirty and foul smelling water,” he said.

Mr R.P. Gupta, SDO, MC, said he would redress the problem immediately after checking the pipeline in the entire area tomorrow.



Innovative spinal surgery comes to rescue of 11-yr-old
Our correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
Master Dhiraj Pal Singh, an 11-year-old male child and a student of class 5 in a local school was leading a very happy life like other children until he started having severe pain in the back and difficulty in bending forward. His ordeal continued for about two weeks and when the pain turned unbearable, his parents brought the child to Sobti Neuro and Trauma Centre here.

According to Dr Manoj Sobti, consultant neurosurgeon and Former Head of Neurosurgery at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital here, the child was found to be having pain on pressure in lumber area and could not bend forward. His MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) of the lumber area revealed 'aneurysmal bone cyst' at L-4 level.

"The CT-guided FNAC confirmed the earlier diagnosis and following intensive investigations, an extra major surgery was planned. During the surgery, the cyst was completely removed and the spine stabilised by using bio-bone (natural bone extract), which is known to incorporate itself into the adjacent bone. Post operative period was uneventful and the child, on his way to a remarkable recovery, was discharged after a fortnight's stay at the hospital."

Dhiraj Pal, who was present in the hospital for a check up, along with his father and grand father, was introduced to the media persons at this occasion. He said he had no problem whatsoever and was leading a normal life without any neurological deficit. The boy was happy to have resumed his daily activities.

Dr Sobti said while the exact cause of this rare disorder of the spine was not known, trauma was considered an initiating factor in pathogenesis of the cysts. As per available data, the problem was more common in females than males in the age group of 10 to 30 years. Aneurysmal bone cyst could affect any part of the bone but 16 per cent of the cases were found in the spine.

He said the common presentation included pain of acute onset which rapidly increased in severity over 6 to 12 week. The local skin temperature might be raised along with tenderness in the swelling. "If left untreated, the spinal lesion may cause neurological symptoms in the form of radiculopathy, paraplagia or quadrilpegia," he said.

In a word of advice, Dr Sobti observed that parents should not ignore the complaints of children of pain in the back. The condition should be thoroughly investigated at the earliest possible. In this particular case, the parents were very intelligent and brought the child to the hospital at a very early stage. Otherwise, if the disease was allowed to have progressed further, the child could have developed paralysis of lower limbs.



PSEB employees stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Amloh, February 9
The Technical Services Union and the Employees Federation of the Punjab State Electricity Board of Amloh mandal staged a dharna in front of the office of the Executive Engineer here today.

The protesters demanded implementation of their demands and appealed to employees to observe a complete strike on February 15 and 16. 



Tension over demolition

Amloh, February 9
Two foundation stones of structures in memory of Gurcharan Singh Tohra were demolished at his native village Tohra, 10-km from here. This had caused tension in the area.

The foundation stone of a stadium and the foundation stone of a park at the site of his cremation were laid on September 24 last. OC



Hospital staff protest
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 9
Employees of the ESI Model Hospital here, led by activists of the ESI Employees Union and the Coordination Committee of the Paramedical and Health Employees, today held a protest and burnt an effigy of the hospital authorities in support of their demands.

The employees were agitating against change in working hours of the hospital and for other demands.

Speakers threatened to resort to a chain fast from February 20.

The employees were asking for continuation of OPD facility the ESI employees, giving medicines to patients from within the hospital and handing over administrative control of the institution to the Punjab government.



2 Army men hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 9
Two Army men were hurt in a road mishap when the Ambassador car in which they were travelling collided with the fence of a canal bridge near Sudhar village last night. The injured were shifted to the Military Hospital at the Air Force Station, Halwara.

Ajit Kumar and R. Kishore were injured in the mishap. According to police sources, the mishap occurred due to poor visibility due to smog in the area. Mr P.S. Villaine, driver of the vehicle told the police that collision took place when they were going from Boparai village to the Air Force Station residential colony around 11 pm last night. They were returning from S.K. Range, Sidhwan. Rakesh Kumar, another occupant of the car, and the driver escaped unhurt.



3 booked for youth’s suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 9
The city police today booked three persons, including a woman, for allegedly creating circumstances leading to the suicide by a youth in Lakkar Bazar yesterday afternoon.

The accused moneylender, Gurmail Singh, his daughter Kuki, residents of Model Town Extension, and Jaswinder Singh of Mayapuri were booked under Section 306 of the IPC.

The youth, Vipin Kumar, committed suicide by hanging himself at the shop where he worked. He left a suicide note, alleging that a financier had been harassing him though he had repaid the debt.

He stated that the financier had lent him Rs 15,000 some while ago. The amount multiplied due to the alleged exorbitant interest charged.

He also stated in the suicide note that apart from the financier, his family members and some employees also used to threaten and harass him.

The police said raids were being conducted to nab the accused.



Artistes booked over obscene CD

Ludhiana, February 9
Two Khanna-based artistes have been booked for allegedly being involved in the production of a video CD containing objectionable material and obscene scenes.

The Jagraon police booked Bagha Safri and Kiran Jyoti, along with other persons involved in the production work. The police had got some complaints and had viewed the CD. TNS


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