L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Farmers clash with police, 18 hurt 
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, February 28
At least 15 activists of the Kirti Kisan Union and three policemen were injured in a clash near Dalla village late last evening when the police was removing a road blockade laid by over a hundred activists.

The police later lathicharged the mob and arrested 14 activists, including Mr Hardev Sandhu, national president of the union. Ten injured activists reached the Civil Hospital but were whisked away by the police.

Apart from the blockade, the police was also irked at the burning of the effigies of the Ludhiana Improvement Trust Chairman, Wing Commander Paramjit Singh Sibia (retd), and the SSP, Mr R. K. Jaiswal.

The effigies were in police uniform and the police objected to it, saying that it was an insult to the uniform and the activists should protest in a peaceful manner.

The union was protesting against the decision of the Punjab Police to recommend the cancellation of two FIRs registered against Wing Cdr Sibia. Mr Jaiswal had made the recommendation.

Wing Cdr Sibia, who also runs a commission agent firm, was booked on the complaint of two farmers who charged him with criminal intimidation and use of musclepower to claim a loan back from them.

Mr Jaiswal said ASI Swaran Singh, Head Constable Sukhwinder Singh and Satnam Singh were injured when the activists tore their uniforms and beat them up. He said the police wanted the activists to clear the road and refrain from burning the effigies.

Mr Sandhu told mediapersons while being whisked away that he would raise the issue at the national level.

The police has registered a case against the activists under Sections 332, 354, 186, 151 and 147 of the IPC and Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Public Noise Control Act.

Mr Manmohan Kaushik, Executive Magistrate, said the activists had provoked the police.

The union had held a meeting with Mr Jaiswal yesterday, urging him to withdraw the recommendation of cancelling the FIRs and arresting Wing Cdr Sibia.

Mr Sandhu had alleged earlier during the rally that the police was playing in the hands of the Congress government and was shielding the accused.

The rally had started from Chaka village and reached Dall village in the evening. The activists wanted to burn the effigies in Jagraon. Mr Jaiswal said his officers had not stopped the rally but wanted the activists to refrain from burning the police uniform.

Judicial custody

JAGRAON: Hardev Singh Sandhu, state president, Inderjit Singh Dhaliwal, Surinder Singh, Jagrup Singh, Ramsingh, Madan Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Avtar Singh, Gurcharan Singh , Gurdev Singh and eight other members of the Kirti Kisan Union were remanded to judicial custody till March 14 by the court of Ms Jitender Walia, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, here on Tuesday. Before entering the court they were raising slogans against Mr Paramjit Singh Sivia and Senior Superintendent of Police. 



PAU gets Rs 100 cr grant
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Thanks to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), the city was part of the Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambram’s Budget speech today.
The minister praised the university for being “a pioneer in the Green Revolution” and allocated a special grant of Rs 100 crore as an acknowledgement of its efforts.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr K.S.Aulakh, said : “We are on cloud nine. This grant will be used towards crop improvement, horticulture, natural resources management, engineering, post-harvesting technology and several other purposes.”

The grant would give the much needed second push to the evergreen “second green revolution” and enable the university to evolve new crop varieties, hybrids and affordable production and protection technologies to benefit Punjab agriculture in general and mitigate the economic suffering of the farmers in particular.

He said now that the Finance Minister had reposed immense faith in the university, proper utilisation of the grant and producing results that benefited the agricultural sector would be a challenge for the PAU.

Dr Aulakh said the Chief Minister had been assuring the university that he would get a grant and he had finally fulfilled his promise.

On the Budget, Dr Aulakh said it was quite positive as there had been an increase in allocation towards expanding irrigational facilities and agri-based industries like agro-processing.

The farming sector, too, expressed happiness over measures like reduction in interest rate to 7 per cent for loans up to Rs 3 lakh. “Financial limitations are a major problem for farmers and such measures will go a long way in helping this community,” said Kartar Singh, a farmer.

Mr I.D. Singh, General Manager, Punjab Zone, Punjab National Bank, said: “The move to reduce the interest rate will certainly help farmers. However, it will put great pressure on banks as the operational and other costs are more than 7 per cent. He said the decision to decrease the interest rate was against robust economic growth.”

Regarding the Finance Minister’s statement on doubling farm credit, he said banks in Punjab particularly had been performing well. “From December 2003 to December 2005, there was a 70 per cent growth in agricultural credit.”

Experts said the proposal to set a national institute on food processing would promote the agricultural sector.



Conman poses as kidnapper, nabbed
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
A Dugri-based family that has been moving from pillar to post for the past three weeks in search of its missing son was shocked to learn that a kidnapping drama had been enacted by a conman who claimed he had kidnapped the youth. The conman proved to be a gambler and lottery trader who hoped to make a fast buck by taking advantage of the situation.

While the conman has been arrested, the woes of the family are far from over. There is no clue about the whereabouts of the youth.

Manish Sharma, an engineering student, had gone missing on February 9. His father, Mr V.N. Sharma, a manager with . Punjab National Bank, had lodged a complaint with the Model Town police. The pictures were printed in newspapers and posters were pasted in the city.

The conman identified as Mohan Lal allegedly took a cue from the posters and started making telephone calls to the family, demanding ransom. He had almost succeeded in his plot but the family and the police grew suspicious over the ransom letter.

While the man claimed that he was calling from Ambala and spoke in Hindi, he had sent the ransom letter using Hindi written in Gurmukhi.

Mohan Lal lives in Dhandra Colony. His two children study in the same school in which Ms Sushma, mother of the missing youth, is a teacher.

The Model Town police station SHO, Mr Rajesh Kumar, said the trickster had no inkling about the whereabouts of the youth but claimed that he had kidnapped him and would release him safely after receiving the ransom. The accused had been booked under Sections 364-A, 120-B, IPC.

The police traced the calls which were made from several PCOs in Abdullahpur basti. The police deployed cops in mufti at several PCOs . The accused was nabbed late last night.



Scramble for duplicate roll numbers
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, February 28
Even as the examinations of both the PSEB and the CBSE are beginning tomorrow, students continue to visit the district office of the PSEB to get duplicate roll numbers.

Some of the students of Class VIII and XII have not received their roll numbers. Long queues of agitated students are to be seen at the Board’s district office in Punjabi Bhavan. The students are hoping to get duplicate roll numbers, which will enable them to sit in the examinations.

The majority of students who have not got their roll numbers are private students.

Akhil, who is appearing for Class XII examination, said: “I was quite confident that I would do well. But, the tension of not getting the roll number has reduced me to a nervous wreck. Every year the students suffer at the hands of the PSEB that, too, after paying a hefty examination fee.”

Another student Reema said had they got the roll numbers on time, they would not have been wasting their time looking for it but preparing for their English paper.

Mr Ramesh Kumar, Manager, District Education Office, said most of the time roll numbers did not reach the students’ houses as proper address was not written on the forms. He had received only three cases so far where students’ name could not be found on the list. Two were from Class XII and one was from Class VIII.

He said counters were being opened for students to get duplicate roll numbers till today evening. Some students who were facing difficulty in getting their numbers were being sent to Mohali.

Another major problem being faced by schools is that this year the students of a school have to go to different examination centres. If one examination centre has been made at Pakhowal Road then other centre is in Model Town. The parents and teachers are agitated as the students of Class VIII cannot be sent on their own to far-off centres.

The school authorities are worried that how they will reach the students at different centres at the same time. “Private schools always face this kind of problem”, said Mr Deepak Mannan, president of The Association of Private Schools.

Principals had met the Chairman of the Board before examinations and apprised him of these problems, but to no avail, he added.



Scooterist killed
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, February 28
An unidentified person, who was going on a scooter (PB-10W-3573), was killed on G.T. Road in Dakha area when a bus (PB-11F-9720) hit the scooter. On the complaint of Pankaj of Barewal, the police has registered a case under Sections 279,427,304-A of the IPC. 



MC removes encroachments 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
After several unsuccessful attempts in which the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation had to beat a retreat while demolishing some structures in the city, a demolition squad of the civic body today succeeded in taking possession of around 10 acres in Dairy Complex, Haibowal, and Pavitter Nagar.

Besides razing illegal structures, the axe of the demolition squad fell on around a dozen jhuggis amid mild protests by alleged encroachers in Pavitter Nagar. Due to the presence of a heavy posse of the police, the occupants could not dare to raise a lot of hue and cry.

Led by the Joint Commissioner of the LMC, Dr Jaswant Singh, the squad comprised an Executive Magistrate, Mr J.K. Jain, DSP Simrat Pal Singh Dhindsa, the Station House Officer, Haibowal, Mr Gurpreet Singh, the Senior Town Planner, Mr Balkar Singh Brar, all ATPs, MC labour and a bulldozer.

In a four-hour operation, the team put up boards announcing its possession at various places. After gathering at the Kitchlu Nagar police chowki, the team removed some structures on Dairy Complex and later moved to Pavitter Nagar.

The encroachers in Pavitter Nagar, who were sitting on MC land, expressed resentment to mediapersons. They said they had been living in this area for the past many years but nobody had ever told them to go. They added that they were not even served any notice by the civic body otherwise they would have made arrangements elsewhere.

An elderly woman said she was the only one in the house and could not move her belongings to a safe place. She added that the squad had descended today to harass “poor” people like her.

MC officials said they had provided enough time to them to move their belongings. Otherwise, too, they were not supposed to wait for them. They had just allowed them to take away their goods on humanitarian grounds.



Govt focus on urban people, industry: Dullo
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 28
The Congress government in Punjab is committed for the all-round development of the state, particularly to extend major relief to the urban population and industry. Action on various fronts has been initiated to achieve this objective.

This was stated by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Shamsher Singh Dullo while addressing a meeting of party functionaries at the residence of Mr Ramesh Joshi, Director, Punjab Pollution Control Board, in Upkar Nagar here last evening. Mr Jagmohan Sharma, President of the District Congress Committee (Urban), was also present.

Mr Dullo maintained that the government had launched a massive programme to give impetus to industrial growth and infrastructure development in the state. New industrial and power generation projects worth more than Rs50,000 crore had already been approved and the figure was likely to cross Rs1,00,000 crore by the end of this year.

The government was laying special emphasis on the upgrade of existing power projects and setting up new projects to find a permanent solution to the perennial problem of power scarcity, much needed for industrial development. The tax structure had been simplified after the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT).

Claiming that major relief measures were in store for the urban population in Punjab, the PPCC chief said the government had approved waiver of old arrears of water and sewerage charges in major towns, which would benefit a large segment of people, particularly those from the weaker sections.

Not only this, providing water and sewerage facility free of cost to the urban population was under active consideration of the government. Mr Dullo also dwelt upon the Punjab Nirman programme and many other plans for better delivery of civic services and creation of infrastructure.

Mr Dullo regretted the negative role being played by the Opposition in general and the Akali Dal in particular. It was hampering welfare and development schemes, he said, adding that the Akali leaders were in the habit of playing up non-issues and rousing communal and religious tension whenever out of power.

He, however, expressed confidence that the people in Punjab would not be misled by the false promises and propaganda of “rejected” Opposition leaders.



Budget leaves many yearning for more
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Termed as insipid by experts, Budget 2006 evoked mixed reaction from city residents and industry. While a large section complained of lack of initiatives, many people felt that it was a case of no news being good news.

The continuation of cash transaction tax and bringing ATM services under service tax evoked criticism. “This move will have a catastrophic effect. Tax on ATM services will hit depositors. Though the move to bring fixed deposits for five years and more under Section 80 C is some relief, but there was a lot that could have been done,” felt Mr Manmeet Singh, branch head, Centurion Bank of Punjab, Akalgarh Market.

Capital markets were dull and there was lack of motivation among investors.

“For the long term, one can say it is a good Budget, but the immediate impact has not been positive on the market. Imposition of service transaction tax has hit the market and it would take some time for the small investor to absorb it,” said Mr H.S.Sidhu, Executive Director, Ludhiana Stock Exchange (LSE).

Experts maintained that the Budget had moved in the right direction, aiming at a higher growth rate and lower fiscal deficit. On the FDs being included under 80C, Mr Sidhu said the move was not likely to attract investors as interest rates were pretty low in banks.

However, the FM should have reduced subsidies further as they eat up the national exchequer, but sadly, he did not touch these.

Increase of service tax from 10 per cent to 12 per cent and inclusion of services like PR drew flak. “The Budget is quite disappointing and this increase would discourage people from expanding their business operations. In my case, I do not get any incentive either as a business woman or as a self-employed entrepreneur,” rued Ms Alice Guram of Catalyst PR.

Textile industry was upbeat on the announcement of upgrading of the Technology Upgradation Fund (TUF). “We are quite relieved as the industry was expecting TUF to be downsized. The move would benefit the textile industry here,” said Mr Vinod K. Thapar, president, Knitwear Club.

Reduction of duty on man-made fibre too would be of immense advantage to spinning mills. Besides, allocation of funds to training colleges would help provide better skill base to the industry, he opined.

Bicycle industry, another major industry based in the city, complained that the Finance Minister did not pay heed to their demands. “The bicycle industry continues to be hit, particularly due to service tax being increased. Besides, as it is a non-excisable industry it will not even derive any benefit in the form of Cenvat, etc. We had expected some relief in the form of refunds on heavy taxes, but nothing came,” said Mr Satish Dhanda, president, Indian Bicycle Manufacturers Association.

Terming it the worst Budget presented by this government so far, he said there was no impetus for the manufacturing segment.

“Simplification of the fringe benefits tax (FBT) will benefit the industry, but there are not many initiatives the Finance Minister took to promote industry,” said Mr Inderjit Singh Navyug, president, Small Manufacturers Welfare Association. The salaried class, meanwhile, remained happy as no change in tax rates was announced.



Fire in shawl unit
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 28
Shawl material worth lakhs was gutted in a fire that broke out in a shawl unit at Lalu Mal Street in Chaura Bazar here last night.
The fire broke out in Duggar Shawl Unit late last evening and was doused only after five fire engines were pressed into service.

According to Mr Amarjeet Sharma, fire officer, the fire was spotted on the third floor of the unit. Fire fighters found it difficult to douse the fire as the fire engines could not enter the congested Lalu Mal Street.

They had to put up a long pipe from Chaura Bazar itself to sprinkle water to douse the flames.

Some fire workers risked their lives by perching atop the roof of the building under fire to put it off. A number of shopkeepers helped them.



Pingalwara chief visits Preetnagar

Ludhiana, February 28
Dr Inderjit Kaur, chairperson, All- India Pingalwara Society, Amritsar, visited the Guru Angad Dev Educational and Welfare Council at Preetnagar, Ludhiana, recently. She expressed happiness over the fact that all expenses, including books, stationery and uniforms, were being provided by the council. — OC



Cops ‘beat up’ farmer, probe ordered
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 28
A farmer of Rangia village has accused the Dehlon police of thrashing him and insulting him publicly at the behest of some residents of the village.
The SSP, Jagraon, has directed the Circle Officer, Mullanpur, to probe the matter.

Mr Amarjit Singh Khaira,SHO, Dehlon, denied the charges against the police and maintained that Bachan Singh, son of Tara Singh, the complainant had been booked under Sections 290 and 510 of the IPC for allegedly creating nuisance for allegedly creating nuisance while in an inebriated condition on February 25.

According to a complaint made tot he Senior Superintendent of Police at Jagraon, Bachan Singh(65) was allegedly been beaten up and humiliated by cops of the Dehlon police station on February 25, when he was going on his tractors and some persons blocked his way.

"Instead of taking action against those who had detained me for around two hours, the policemen abused me and pulled my hair, besides battering me with lathis and butts of their guns. They dragged me for a long distance and registered a false case against me," alleged Mr Bachan Singh.

He said the police had acted at the behest of some persons of the village against whom he had complained earlier and had sent the complaint by post to the SSP .

Apprehending danger to life and property , Kuldeep Singh, the victim's son, urged the SSP to probe the matter and ensure protection.

He claimed that no member of his family, including his father , consumed any intoxicant. "The chemical report of blood samples of my father taken by the authorities at the Civil Hospital, Dehlon, will prove that he had not consumed liquor," said Kuldeep Singh. 



Petrol station staff robbed at gunpoint
Our Coresspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, February 28
Three unidentified miscreants robbed a petrol station at gunpoint at the Ludhiana-Malerkotla road near Dehlon early this morning. The police has started a massive hunt after registering a case.

According to an FIR registered under Sections 182, 342, 427 and 34 of the IPC and 25/54/59 of the Arms Act on the statement of Jodh Singh,a partner in Unique Filling Station, three unidentified miscreants looted cash and goods worth more than Rs 10,000 by locking employees of the station in a room at gunpoint.

The miscreants came in a Tata 207passenger vehicle at 5.30 am and asked the employees to fill fuel.

"On getting the tank filled with fuel worth around Rs 975, they came inside the cabin and showed a 12 bore pistol to the employees. They fled with Rs 5, 000 in cash, a TV set and a mobile phone set after locking the employees inside the room," said the filling station owner to the police.

The miscreants were between 25 and 30 years of age and two of them had their faces covered.

The filling station, an IOC outlet remains open round the clock, but in the early hours the staff strength is the skeletal

Mr Suhinder Singh Bawa, SP (D), Mr Kulwant Singh,DSP(D),Mr Amarjit Singh Khaira, SHO, and Mr Pirthipal Singh, in charge ,CIA, visited the spot to investigate the matter.

The police it questioning the staff as the possibility of an insider is not ruled out. 



Mega expo to mark Women’s Day
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 28
To mark International Women’s Day, Excelsior PR in association with the Aagaz Charitable Foundation has planned a unique event, “The Woman 2006,” an exhibition that would highlight the best products available for women all over the world. It would also provide a platform for successful women leaders and entrepreneurs to interact with one another.

The mega expo which will commence from March 10 will encompass fashion, jewellery, kitchen appliances, skin care, make up and parenting tips.

People from various areas will speak on the occasion. Some of the speakers are Ms Ratna Khemani, Director, Centre for Personality Development, Pune, Dr Shikha Sharma, dietician, New Delhi, Ms Preeti Kaur, CGM, MMTC, Sister Melba Rodrigues, Principal, St Bede’s College, Shimla and Dr Iqbal.

Another attraction would be a theatre performance.

Ms Manmeet Grewal, president, Aagaz Charitable Foundation, said: “The event celebrates the lives, ingenuity and accomplishments of women, marking International Women's Day. There is a range of talks and events for everybody.”

Phillaur: The greatest challenge before the women today is to excel in their respective careers while at the same time providing attention to their families.It is an irony of fate that today's women have one age period only (between 20 to 30) to make their career, to get married and produce children.

This was commonly agreed upon by speakers and participants at the two-day workshop on "Role of women police in contemporary society and their problems" at Punjab Police Academy here.

The Chief guest, Ms Raji V. Srivastva, Joint Secretary, Finance, UT, said that bias against women was not restricted to India bu t was a worldwide phenomenon as women constituted two-third of the world's poor population.

All countries had failed to bridge the gender gap and to cap it all, the governments did not even view this as a problem.

Speaking from r experience she said society in India did not encourage women to work outside the house.

Dr R S Gill, Director, PPA, traced the roots of the problem to the stone age when women used to stay at home while menfolk went to hunt. He said women should not wait for opportunities but should create those and become educated and skilled enough to be preferred over males.

He informed that a new well- designed women hostel was being constructed at the academy for providing modern technological facilities to women trainees undergoing different training programmes. The hostel would be named after supercop Kiran Bedi.

Giving details about the workshop, Dr S S Chauhan and Dr D J Singh, both Deputy Directors of the academy, said sessions on Social and administrative steps required to improve participation of women in democratic institutions, including the police and the emerging role of women in the police were conducted.



Budget: Mixed response by steel re-roller units
Our Correspondent

Khanna, February 28
There was mixed reaction from steel re-rollers after the Union Budget presented in Parliament. The re-rollers were expecting reduction in excise duty from 16 per cent to 8 per cent as there was heavy recession on the iron and steel market. Re-introduction of Compounded Levy Scheme was also expected in the Budget. By not providing these amendments, re-rollers community feeling aggrieved.

Keeping the central excise rates unaffected the government has imposed 5 per cent customs duty on melting scrap. Earlier, import duty on melting scrap was nil with the condition that scrap to be import will have to be use only by induction furnaces and these induction furnaces will produce "End Use Certificate" after procuring this from the jurisdictional Assistant Commissioner of Central Excise. Now this condition has been deleted while imposing 7 per cent customs duty.

Mr Vinod Vashisht, president, All-India Steel Re-Rollers Association, said the government should come forward to save the iron and steel re-rollers in reducing the excise duty and imposing compounded levy scheme. Mr Vashisht said the association was demanding the deletion of this condition from the past 5 years, now, he welcomes this amendment.

Mr Harmesh Jain, president of the Small Scale Steel Re-Rollers Association, also welcomed the deletion of End Use Certificate. He said members of the association were frustrated on keeping 16 per cent excise duty rate on iron and steel. 


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