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3 die as jeep rams into closed rail barrier
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Railway workers repair the barrier that was damaged when a jeep rammed into it.
Railway workers repair the barrier that was damaged when a jeep rammed into it.
— Photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, March 8
The thrill of booze and overspeeding claimed three young lives on the Ludhiana- Dhuri railway line barrier near Sidhwan Canal, Dugri, at about 1:15 am today when a Mahindra open jeep, carrying four engineering students, banged into the closed railway barrier leaving three dead and one seriously wounded.

The jeep (No HR K--4497) hit the barrier with such force that it was flung several feet up into the sky.It crashed into a street light pole, twisting it. The pole fell upside down with a loud thud. The pair of iron railway barrier was found in pieces all around the place.

A body was found near the pole. Another was found over 15 feet away on the banks of the Sidhwan Canal. The third was trapped in the jeep only and the fourth injured one was found on the road.

The deceased youths were later identified as Harbhajan Singh, Alok Anand, Palwinder Singh and the seriously injuried was Amaninder Singh. All were final year students of a degree course in Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College.

Amaninder Singh was admitted in Apollo Hospital. Doctors were keeping their fingers crossed about his chances of survival.

Jagat Ram, gateman of the Northern Railways on duty at that hour, said the jeep came in at a very high speed and smashed straight into the barrier. ''Two scooter-riders had a miraculous escape as they were waiting for the train at the barrier. Another car, Tata Qualis, was waiting on the other side of the barrier. A portion of the jeep fell on the bonnet of that car,'' said the gateman.

He said the riders on the scooters and the Qualis left the place immediately." There was such a huge noise that nobody knew what had happened," he added.

DSP, Railway Police, Bahadur Singh and SHO Gian Chand told Ludhiana Tribune that a case under Sections 279, 304-A, 338, 427 and 428 of the IPC has been registered against the jeep driver.

The police said the postmortem examination has confirmed the youths were under the influence of liquor.

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Gateman averts train mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
The alert gateman at Ludhiana-Dhuri railway line averted a major rail tragedy after the jeep rammed into the railway barrier today. The railway barriers were broken into pieces with some falling on the tracks. A rail mishap could have occurred because of the pieces.

Gateman Jagat Ram had a few seconds to rush to the aid of the accident victims and stop the fast-approaching Dhandari goods train. He flashed the red signal, ran towards the jeep and immediately came back and ran on the line to flash the danger signal once again. The train stopped near the barrier for about 15 minutes

Sukhdev Singh, his colleague, revealed to Ludhiana Tribune that Jagat Ram later called him also for help. They, along with the railway policemen, cleared the track.

The accident resulted in disturbance to the both rail and road traffic throughout the day. The gatemen had to put chains every time a train approached. The trains also had to slow down and pass after the railway gatemen managed to keep passers-by at bay, who were trying to jump the chains.

Two other youths escaped death by a few minutes only.

Two more students had alighted the ill-fated jeep near Dugri just 200 metres before the vehicle smashed into the railway barrier.

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Pakistan spy held
Tribune News Service

ISI agent in police custody in Ludhiana on Wednesday.
ISI agent (with muffled face) in police custody in Ludhiana on Wednesday.—  Photo by Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, March 8
The Pakistan Government has started transforming notorious criminals of the country into well-trained agents who worked for its intelligence agency, ISI, and gathered vital information about Army positioning and ammunition depots in India.

This has come to light with the arrest of an alleged ISI agent, Rana Farhat Ali, who was living under changed identity in the city and had managed to make maps as regards an Army battalion and the Baddowal Ammunition Depot here.

Announcing the “prize catch” at a press conference today afternoon, SSP Narinderpal Singh said the accused was living in street No 2-1/2 in Guru Arjun Dev Nagar here under the assumed identity of Manjit Singh for the past one year.

The SSP said the accused had stayed in Hisar, Ambala and several other key military stations where he gathered information relating to the national security. He kept on changing his identities as per the majority of the population of his new area of operation.

The SSP said the accused had revealed that he had committed two murders. In Pakistan, he was given the option to live by agreeing to do spying in India. He was given the status of Pakistan Resident Agent and sent to India.

Only a matriculate, he is well trained in computer technology, map reading and other arts of spying.

He used to send e-mails to Pakistan and chat on the Internet regularly. The police has recovered a number of maps from his possession.

He was being sent money regularly through money transfer companies. His family back home in Faislabad district of Pakistan was also being given monthly fund of Rs 6,000. The accused had received around Rs 1 lakh in the past one year.

The SSP said SI Sandeep Wadhera, Inspector Gurpreet Singh and other CIA staff would be felicitated for the successful nabbing of the agent.

The SSP said the accused would also be interrogated by the Indian intelligence agencies.

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PSEB employee electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 8
An employee of the PSEB who had received an electric shock at Tooran village died on Tuesday night at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. The deceased, Dharam Singh (53), was working on a 66KV line at 1 pm when the incident took place. He was taken to the Civil Hospital from where he was referred to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. He is survived by his wife two sons and a daughter.

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Bhattal to facilitate pacts with foreign varsities
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has disclosed that the Department of Higher Education has decided to facilitate the collaboration of universities in Punjab with universities of developed countries for admissions in various vocations and higher studies for excellent students, so that they could avail the enormous employment opportunities created with the latest advancement in the modern technologies.

She was addressing students on the annual prize distribution function of Guru Nanak Khalsa College for Women, Gujjar Khan Campus, here today.

The Deputy CM said with the improvement in the level of the education in India, the universities of the developed countries were offering liberal opportunities to Indian students for higher education due to the excellent performance of talented youths.

Ms Bhattal called upon girls to acquire excellence in their subjects so that they could compete with their counterpart at the international level.

Referring to the fast changing social and economic scenario, Ms Bhattal said the government was committed for women empowerment and for the effective participation of women in all fields the vocational education was an important pre-requisite.

She said providing education to a girl was considered as a key for the prosperity of a complete family. She said Indian women had made substantial contribution in the freedom movement and afterwards struggled hard for the transformation of a harmonious society.

Expressing concern over the decline in the sex ratio in the society, she said though the level of education among the women was improving, still the women were also becoming party in encouraging female foeticide, which was creating an imbalance in the society.

Ms Bhattal distributed prizes to the outstanding students for their excellent performance in various fields and announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the improvement of the college building.

Ms Manju Chawla, Principal of the college, read out annual report of the college and highlighted the achievements of the students in different field. The management of the college honoured Ms Bhattal for her excellent service to the society on Women Day.

Others present on this occasion included Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Gurvir Singh Sarna, secretary, managing committee, Parminder Singh Mehta, secretary, PPCC, Kuldeep Kaur, a former Principal and president, managing committee of the college.

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Dal (Longowal) plans third front
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, today said that the third front in the state would be constituted before the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, which falls on August 20. He said all the non Congress, non BJP and no Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal groups would be part of the front.

Mr Chandumajra claimed that people of the state were fed up with the traditional parties like the ‘Badal Akali Dal’, the BJP and the Congress. He said the third front will include all those parties which want a peaceful and progressive Punjab. He also clarified taht the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will also be a part of the third front.

Mr Chandumajra also announced the entry of Mr Kripal Singh Sandhu into the party. Mr Sandhu had resigned from the SAD-B. He said, several more leaders and workers were likely to join his party as they were not feeling comfortable with the SAD-B.

The District president of the party, Mr Jaswinder Singh Bhaliawal was also present on the occasion.

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Tribune reporter awarded
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
Ms Asha Ahuja, working as correspondent in The Tribune was today conferred with the Dayal Singh Majithia Award for excellence in Journalism by the Ek Jot Welfare Society on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. Nine other women were also honoured with different awards for the outstanding contribution in different fields. The awards were presented at an impressive function by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Others awarded today included the Civil Surgeon, Ms Rajinder Kaur with Marie Curie Award, Ms Kamalpreet Brar, Joint Commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation with Punjab Gaurav Award, Ms Sushila Gupta, Deputy Mayor with Ludhiana Gaurav Award, Ms Amandeep Kaur, DSP, MC Ludhiana, with Maharani Jhansi Award, Ms Sara Johnson with Mother Teressa Award, Dr Rekha Bharadwaj with Ma Sarswati Award, Ms Rajini Bector with Udyog Maharani Award, Ms Prabhjot Kaur with Dr Radhakrishnan Award and Ms Harpreet Kaur Khalsa with Maharani Jinda Award.

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Two camps today
Tribune News service

Ludhiana, March 8
The district administration will organise two separate camps for applicants of Urban Estate, Dugri area, and for Jamalpur to clear the shortcomings in applications and redress the problems of riot victims of 1984 at Patwar Khana near Dushera ground, Urban Estate Dugri, and at old PUDA Office, Chandigarh road (behind Vardhman Mill), on March 9 from 11 am to 4 pm.

Mr Anurag Verma Deputy Commissioner, said M. S. Jaggi SDM (W), along with his staff, will be available at the camp in Urban Estate, Dugri, and Ms Amrit Kaur Gill, SDM, (E), with her staff will listen to the problems of riot victims at the old PUDA Office on Chandigarh road.

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CRIME

Robbers decamp with Rs 95,000
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
An alleged gang of burglars from Moradabad struck again in broad daylight today when they broke the glove compartment of a factory employee’s vehicle and decamped with Rs 95,000 kept in it. The guts of the gangsters were too evident in the incident as they struck just at an arms length from the Division No 5 police station.

The alleged criminals known as the notorious Moradabadi gang have been giving sleepless nights to the city police. Sources said the police was trying hard to catch them but they had managed to elude arrest.

Today’s victim was Balraj Khanna, an employee of the Ravi Industries. He had withdrawn the money from HDFC Bank Mall Road. He had stopped to have a cold drink near the Division No 5 police station slip road. When he came out of the shop he was shocked to find the dicky broken and the money missing.

The Division No 5 police also did not show any alacrity towards the crime. The cops at the police station did not came out to check for finger prints. A red alert was sounded only after mediapersons pressed for it. The victim is the elder brother a city based journalist.

The police has registered a case.

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BUSINESS

SBI connects 10,000 branches
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
The State Bank of India said today that it had networked 10,000 branches of the bank group across the country. The bank partnered with Datacraft India, an IT solutions and services company, to attain this target.

Mr A.K. Purwar, Chairman, State Bank group, said: "All our associate banks and our Kerala and Bangalore circles have been fully networked. This will enable the bank to render world-class service to over 100 million customers."

The SBI Connect project, which commenced in June, 2002, was executed in three phases. While the first phase covered about 1,400 SBI branches in 49 cities and involved network designing, implementation and management, the second phase involved networking of 3,400 branches in more than 300 cities. The final phase, that is currently under implementation, will network 6,100 additional branches of the group.

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Budget ‘disappoints’ industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
Auto Parts Manufacturers Association said that the Budget presented by Punjab’s Finance Minister Surinder Singla had failed to come up to the industry’s expectations as it did not address any of the demands the industry has been putting forward so far.

Mr Gurpargat Singh Kahlon, president of the association, said that the auto parts industry had been suffering due to very high VAT rate of 12.5 per cent and urged the government several times to reduce this rate. However, the Finance Minister did not even touch the issue.

The association also rued that no separate allocation was made for development of industry in the state.

Pensioners also expressed their frustration. “In its 48-months rule and after having presented five Budgets, the Congress Government has not fulfilled a single promise it made in its manifesto. The government has only shown its apathy towards senior citizens by ignoring this segment,” said Mr Yash Paul Ghai, general secretary, Government Pensioners Association.

The announcement to abolish separate audit system under VAT for dealers who were already subject to income audit and whose turnover was certified by qualified auditors was welcomed by industry was, meanwhile, welcomed. “This announcement has come as a major relief,” said Mr Jatinder Khurana, president, Taxation Young Lawyers Association.

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