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2 youths ‘rescued’ from illegal custody
Police defends detention
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
A Warrant Officer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court raided Salem Tabri police station late last night and ‘‘freed’’ two youths who had allegedly been detained illegally in the police station for some days.

The Salem Tabri police has, however, strongly defended the detention of the two youths in its reply sent to the High Court. The police said the youths had been called to the police station legally and were being questioned for their alleged links with a gang of highway robbers.

SP City-II Kuldip Singh told Ludhiana Tribune that the youths— Manjit Singh and Mohit Kumar— residents of Chitti Colony, had been summoned to the police station. ‘‘They had reached the police station just half an hour ago before the raid, ’’ he added.

He said there was no need to take any action against the policemen on duty at the police station as all legal procedures had been followed for questioning the youths.

SI Gurbans Singh Bains, SHO, Salem Tabri police station, said the suspects had earlier been booked in several cases all over the state. He said the youths knew a lot about a gang of notorious criminals which was giving sleepless nights to the Punjab Police.

Sources added that the suspects had allegedly been seen with some members of a gang of highway robbers. The gang was allegedly active on Ludhiana-Jalandhar stretch of the National Highway apart from in other areas of the state.

The Warrant Officer, Mr Subash Malik, had raided the police station on the complaint of the relatives of the two youths. The youths were, later, admitted to the civil hospital as they needed medical attention.

The youths, however, told mediapersons that they were scooter mechanics and had been picked up by a police team three days ago. They also alleged that they had been beaten up regularly in the police station. They claimed that the cops were forcing them to confess that they were involved in a number of crimes.

They maintained that they were innocent and had nothing to do with any criminal activity or gang. They said they had not been summoned but had been brought to the police station by force.

Meanwhile, sources in the police claimed that they had got strong leads about the gang of highway robbers and would soon bust it.



Medicos’ anti-quota stir gathers steam
Our correspondent

Students of the Department of Laws, Panjab University Regional Centre, take part in a demonstration against the proposed hike in quota for the OBCs in Ludhiana on Monday
Students of the Department of Laws, Panjab University Regional Centre, take part in a demonstration against the proposed hike in quota for the OBCs in Ludhiana on Monday. — Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, May 22
The on-going anti-reservation movement got further momentum as over 50 volunteers of the Bhagwan Parshuram Brahmin Sabha today extended their support to the agitating medicos in their fight against the quota regime. Another group of 100 students of Law College, Panjab University Regional Centre (PURC) held a rally from PURC to New DMC campus and expressed solidarity with the 'Youth for Equality (the students body of medicos).

The Brahmin Sabha spokesman Mr Kishan Rai urged the government to solve the matter amicably, and at the earliest. He called upon the people in the entire state to come under one banner so that they could emerge as a political force in the next elections.

Mr Jasbir Singh Chahal, president of the Students' Union and Mr Upkar Singh from Law College reiterated that the students, particularly those from professional colleges, wanted equal rights as promised in the Constitution. They asked the masses to consider this issue (pertaining to reservation) on merits rather than viewing it on the basis of caste based.

The law students expressed their serious concern on frequent amendments to Constitution, which they felt, were brought for political gains and mileage by the successive governments. Other student activists echoing similar views included Inderjit Singh, Harmandeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Harmeet Singh, Mandeep Singh Sawhney from Khalsa College for Boys and the ITI.

Functionaries of the Joint Medical Front, including Dr Sandeep, Dr Bharat and Dr Rajpal said that a candle light human chain will be formed at Sarabha Nagar Market late in the evening today and the student volunteers will continue to educate the masses about darker side of reservations.

Meanwhile, the students, protesting against the reservation policy of the Congress-led UPA government continued with their relay fast with Gagan Singh, Charan Kamal Singh, Vaibhav, Danish, Anamika, Amanpreet, Supreet Khurana and Mayur Khosla resorting to hunger strike at New DMC campus. The DMC Teachers' Association (DMCTA) while expressing it solidarity with the agitating students, stated that 25 volunteers of DMCTA will join the fasting students tomorrow.

Dr Harpal Singh, press secretary of DMCTA said that the medical fraternity had taken a strong exception to a news item appearing in the section of the press that students were being coerced into joining the agitation and were being threatened with fine.

The association further maintained that school students, who joined the protest march or the doctors rally, had come voluntarily and many of them had come on their respective school buses. 



Punjab hopeful of Tata projects: Singla
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Punjab might have lost out on the Tata group's investment for the small car-manufacturing unit to West Bengal, but it has not lost hope. The state is expecting to bag some massive investment projects by the Tatas soon.

"We did lose it out, but Tata has some other big projects that might come up soon. It could be next month," said Finance Minister, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla. Refusing to disclose the details of the upcoming projects by the company, Mr Singla said Punjab's offer on setting up a car-manufacturing unit to Tata was quite attractive.

"We were offering them incentives to the tune of Rs 1,800-1,900 crore for their investment of only around Rs 700 crore. Our aim is to revolutionalise industrial environment by bringing a big player here.

It is sad that we lost, but that is not the end."

Correlating the issue to the Reliance land controversy, Mr Singla said: "It was an unnecessary political feud.

The fact is that we have not even finalised any deal with Reliance so far. We were offering them three options, panchayati land, industrial lands and the Mohali plot. Those who want to create controversies would have created one even if Tata had opted for Punjab instead of West Bengal. There is a need to understand that by bringing in large players, it is the state that benefits."

Mr Singla, who was in the city to attend a CII function, said an investment by a large player benefited hundreds of small-scale units, ancillary industry and generated tremendous employment too.

On the issue of the abolition of octroi, he reiterated that the government was committed to doing away with the same. "The alternative we are currently working on is imposing a certain percentage on the net VAT collection. Though it would generate only about Rs 300 crore, in comparison to the loss of Rs 800 crore that would arise if octroi is abolished, the burden on people would be less."

He said businessmen had a misconception that state VAT meant no other local taxes are imposed. "It is only when a uniform Central VAT is imposed that there are no local taxes. But that is not the case. So there is no point of doing away with local taxes."

Ruling out the suggestion by local industrialists of a freight subsidy, the Finance Minister said it was an old concept and the government could neither afford it nor was planning to offer any kind of freight subsidy. "We have released industrial subsidy to the tune of Rs 150 crore and the balance would be given in the next two years."



3 year RI in bid to rape case
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 22
Mr R.L Ahuja, Presiding Officer of the Fast Track Court-cum-Additional Sessions Judge, has sentenced a youth—Tinku Parshad (25) of Dhandari Kalan, Focal Point Ludhiana, to rigorous imprisonment for three years, on the charges of attempting to rape a seven- year-old girl in July 2004.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Ahuja held the prosecution had successfully proved the charges levelled against the accused beyond any reasonable shadow of doubt. The accused did not deserve any leniency, keeping in view the heinous nature of the crime he had committed, remarked the Judge while declining the plea of leniency raised by the accused. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 on the accused.

The accused was booked under Sections 376 and 511 of IPC at Focal Point Police Station on July 23, 2004 following a complaint lodged by the mother of the victim. However, during the trial, the accused pleaded false implication. He submitted that the complainant owed him Rs 20,000 and when he demanded his money back he was falsely implicated in this case. But after appreciating the statement of five prosecution witnesses and scrutinising the medical record, the court found him guilty. 



In-laws booked for ‘burning’ woman
Our Correspondent

Khanna, May 22
The police has booked Nazar Singh of Nizampur, his parents and sister under Sections 304 B, 34 of the IPC on the complaint of Swaran Singh of Manakwal for burning his daughter Sandeep Kaur to death.

According to the statement given to the police by Swaran Singh, his daughter Sandeep was married to Nazar Singh in October 1999. Not satisfied with the dowry, her in-laws used to harass her and even beat her up. The panchayat had also intervened in the matter.

Nazar Singh allegedly threatened him on phone on May 20 and demanded a car. At about 6 a.m yesterday, he received a call from Nizampur and the caller informed him that his daughter had serious burn injuries and was admitted in the DMC, Ludhiana. He reached the hospital and found her in a bad shape. At about 10 a.m., she expired.



MP joins residents in protest against liquor vend
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
The 25-day-long agitation by residents of Saroop Nagar in Salem Tabri to remove a liquor vend from the place today got a major fillip, with a number of political leaders joining their agitation even as their chain fast entered the fourth day.

The residents had started the fast after their efforts to remove the liquor vend failed. They had to even gherao the liquor vend four days ago, but had to resort to chain fast when the vend continued and the authorities prevailed upon them to refrain from violence.

Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, Member Parliament, joined the agitating residents and assured them that he would take up the matter with the District Magistrate to shift the vend from here.

Other political leaders who joined the stir and expressed solidarity with the residents were Mr Vijay Danav, Mr Rajinder Singh Bhatia, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Ashok Kumar and Mr R D Sharma. They cut across party lines to help the residents

The residents had objected to the vend, as it was in a thickly populated area. The residents said the vends would have bad influence on youngsters.



Youth Cong activists protest against Srinagar attack
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Activists of the Youth Congress, led by its secretary, Mr Manoj Rawal, today took out a procession to protest against the militant attack on a Congress rally at Srinagar to mark the death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. The activists also burnt an effigy of terrorism and urged the government to take strong measures against the terrorist forces who were bent upon disturbing the peace and integrity of the country.

The demonstrators were shouting slogans against the terrorists and Pakistan. They alleged that terrorists were still getting massive support from Pakistan. They said despite India’s friendly gestures to Pakistan, that country still supported terrorism in the state.

In a separate statement, the leader of the Opposition in the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, Mr Praveen Bansal, condemned the attack on the rally. At the same time, he reminded the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, that when militants attacked a similar rally organised by the BJP in Doda to protest killings there, he had said, the rally was politically motivated. He asked the Chief Minister whether he held the same view even now.

Mr Bansal said instead of trying to derive political mileage from such incidents, the government needs to tackle the problem while rising above the partisan considerations.



Rly staff up in arms against quota
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 22
A meeting of the Non-Scheduled Caste Northern Railway Employees was held at Ludhiana Railway Station under the presidentship of Mr D.P Bhatia, retired Senior Superintendent Northern Railway, and its patron Mr Manmohan Singh, retired Junior Inspector Ticketing, Northern Railway, here today.

The members condemned the caste-based reservation and said such decisions lead to social inequality and viciousness amongst the different sections of society . They said the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes should be given financial assistance and at no cost should merit be sacrificed by allotting seats through reservation on caste basis. It would be quite an injustice to the general category students, they said.

Another meeting of the Northern Railway General Category Welfare Association was held under the leadership of Mr Joginder Pal Sharma here yesterday. They condemned the lathi charge on protesting medical students by the police. Mr Joginder Lal Pandey said the government had not done a wise thing by raising the reservation issue now. Mr Ajit Singh, student president said everyone should take entrance tests and get admission on the basis of merit.



Pensioners’ zonal convention
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 22
Mr B R Kaushal and Mr Prem Sagar Sharma, members of the Punjab Government Pensioners’ Joint Front informed the press today that under the aegis of the statewide programme chalked out by the pensioners joint front at its meeting on March 26 with an ultimatum served upon the state government, pensioners are organising the 3rd zonal convention at Ludhiana at Pensioners Bhavan, Mini- Secretariat on May 26.

A large number of pensioners of the state government, Central Government including retirees from the semi-government, government-aided schools, the PSEB, transport, PAU, local-self government from Ludhiana and the adjoining districts are expected to participate and would air their grievances against the Punjab Government for its slumbrous attitude towards the implementation of their just and genuine demands and recommendations as are contained in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Party’s pre-poll manifesto released in February, 2002 and also of the Punjab Fourth pay commission report, part-III.

Irked by the cold shoulder treatment meted out to the pensioners, there is a lot of resentment and dissatisfaction among this public-opinion maker’s section of the society which may hamper the prospectives of the present ruling party in the coming Assembly elections.

Mr Kaushal further informs that the Punjab Government pensioners had held massive protest demonstration earlier on March 10, at Chandigarh, April 29 at Patiala and conventions at Ferozepour on May 12, at Fatehgarh Sahib on May 19 and now would organise a convention at Ludhiana on May 26, followed by another two conventions at Amritsar on June 2 and last at Bhatinda on June 9, where-after the joint front would review and chalk out the future course of action which may include holding of fasts, on ‘jail bharo’ agitational programmes where the government would be squarely held responsible for the unpleasant consequences.



Media playing inadequate role in checking drug abuse: study
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
With more and more students falling prey to derivatives of opium and tranquilizers in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal, the print media has not lived up to the status of a social catalyst in awakening people and curbing drug abuse in these northern states.

A study by Punjab Agricultural University teacher Sarabjeet Singh, who is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the Centre for Communication Languages and Culture, is an indicator.

The study analysed news contents pertaining to coverage of stories on drug menace emanating from these states and elsewhere, as reported in three major daily newspapers, one each in English, Punjabi and Hindi.

The conclusion was that the news space and prominence to stories of drug abuse, trafficking and emerging trends was “inadequate” and “unsatisfactory”. Moreover, the print media during the study period had “skipped” issues related to drug inhalants and substances, drug spiking—adding alcohol or other intoxicants to a person’s drink without his or her knowledge, diversification in drug scenario—-new drugs and consumption methods, cyber drug trafficking, cost to society, disposal of confiscated narcotics, legislative measures to control drug abuse, training of police personnel to handle addicts and their stress management, faith-based intervention and rehabilitation. The print media “missed out” on even prescription drugs available freely across the counter in chemist shops.

Mr Sarabjeet Singh had studied the news content of the three newspapers as part of his Doctor of Philosophy degree programme under the supervision of Vir Bala Aggarwal, Chairperson of Department of Mass Communication, and submitted it to the Faculty of Social Sciences at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. The thesis has been accepted for award of Ph.D degree.

From the study of 500-odd news clippings, it was observed that drug addiction was on the rise among underage teens and that too at a heavy cost, social and economic. If this menace was not checked and controlled, it could spell doom for the society. Sarabjeet Singh has clearly brought out the role of the print media as a powerful tool that could build public opinion and influence policy-makers in the government. However, this has not been the case.

Interestingly, the period of study conducted between March 1 and August 31, 2001, was chosen with a purpose. World No Tobacco Day on May 31 and International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Traffic on June 26 is observed during this period. The idea was to study if these two days were of any special significance to influence newspaper coverage. It was not so. In fact, maximum reports on the study topic appeared in March and April, when liquor auctions were held by state governments. The maximum space to drug abuse related stories during the chosen study period was in The Tribune, 45 per cent, followed by Punjab Kesari, 30 per cent and Daily Ajit, 25 per cent.

Quoting numerous studies, including official, Sarabjeet Singh had reported that while Punjab had earned the epithet of a “drugged” state, Haryana was not lagging behind and Himachal Pradesh remained in the news because of illicit production and trafficking in narcotics as a tourist-attractive state. In these states, alcohol and tobacco dominate. However, now derivatives of opium and tranquilizers are taking over.

Majority of addicts in these states were students with drug abuse prevalence ranging from 20 per cent to 35 percent in various universities. “The soaring rate of drug addiction, particularly among school, college and university students in North India, is frightening”. Nearly 40 per cent youth in Punjab are hooked to drugs, according to a study by Baljit Singh Virk in 2002, which is quoted in the thesis.

While this addiction cuts across Malwa, Doaba and Majha, it also transcends caste, religion and occupation. If derivatives of opium are the choice of Majha and Malwa, it is tranquilizers that are most favoured in Doaba.

The state human development report, 2004, is quoted as saying of the country’s 2.5 million addicts in mid-90s, Punjab is home to one million! Even a state government survey has revealed that there is at least one addict in 66 per cent of the households and nearly 40 per cent of the addicts fall in the age bracket of 15 years to 25 year. 



Hindu Samiti’s threat to adopt “tit-for-tat” policy
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, May 22
The Akhil Bhartya Hindu Suraksha Samiti has declared to adopt “tit-for-tat” policy in case the Union Government failed to ensure security of the Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir and other terrorist-hit states of the nation. The declaration was made by Mr Rajiv Tondon, state president of the outfit, at a meeting held at the local Gandhi Chowk today.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune after addressing a meeting of activists of the Samiti, Mr Tondon rued that various political parties had been playing dirty politics by dividing the Hindus to achieve their political goals. "Though various parties have been claiming to be well-wishers of Hindus, none of them ever tried to rehabilitate thousands of families that had been engulfed by terrorism in J and K and other terrorism-affected states of the nation," rued Mr Tondon.

Referring to information collected during their recent visit to sensitive parts of the border state, Mr Tondon alleged that even the administrative officers had been intimidating Hindus to leave the area.

Mr Tondon threatened that the Samiti would allow its activist to adopt “tit-for-tat” policy in case the security of the Hindus was not ensured.

On the issue of political alliance, Mr Tondon said the Samiti would not support any of the political parties during elections. "As no political party has come to the rescue of Hindus till now, we will not support any of them. Instead, we will field our own candidates in case leadership deemed fit," said Mr Tondon.

Mr Vijay Kumar Agnihotri, president (Rural) Ludhiana, Mr Rajesh Sharma, president (Urban), Ludhiana, Mr Naveen Kumar Kaushal, president of the local unit, Mr Rakesh Kappor, Mr Parminder Singh Bajwa and Mr Sanjiv Bhardwaj were also present on the occasion. 



Punjab sets up Rs 991 crore municipal fund
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, Punjab, informed that the state government has set up a Municipal Development Fund of Rs 991 crore for fast development of urban areas of the state 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 by March 31, 2007.

The Education Minister said the state government had also launched the National Slum Development Program in 23 towns of the state with an outlay of Rs 20.10 crore.

He said Capt. Amarinder Singh has given special attention to develop Ludhiana as a modern city of North India and cleared the prestigious project of construction of a Ring Road around Ludhiana city at a cost of Rs 1100 crore on BOT basis.

Mr Johar further informed that the state government had also selected Ludhiana City under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission of Government Of India. He said the Union government would contribute 50 percent of the total plan 
outlay, which would be around 1100 crore, while 20 per cent would be 
contributed by financial institutions. 



Case registered
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, May 22
Daljit Singh, Dalwinder Singh, Satwinder Singh of Mehna, Devinder Singh of Balipur, Gopi Singh of Hambran and five other unknown persons assaulted Pawandeep Singh, alias Pammy, of Purrain. They allegedly used kirpans and sticks. The Hambran police has registered a case under Sections 323, 324, 341, 224, 427, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC. The injured has been admitted to the Sidhwanbet Civil Hospital.



Withdrawal of exemptions to bicycle industry opposed 
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, May 22
The Chamber of industrial and commercial undertakings Ludhiana has taken a strong exception to the proposal by the Finance Ministry to withdraw exemptions of central excise duty and customs duty from the bicycle industry.

In a rejoinder to the proposal of the Finance Ministry to withdraw exemptions granted to the bicycle, cycle parts and accessories, the chamber president, Mr Inderjit Singh, general secretary Avtar Singh have maintained that bicycle is the conventional and cheapest mode of conveyance which suits the majority of people in the country and is known as the poor man's mode of conveyance. Bicycle was included in the central excise three times earlier but ultimately had to be withdrawn by the Finance Minister while accepting the representation of the bicycle industry.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, the chamber has pleaded that if the proposal to withdraw exemption of the excise duty on bicycle , cycle parts and accessories of bicycle is implemented, the price of the bicycle will increase by 16 per cent and will make it unaffordable for the weaker sections of the society. The proposed withdrawal of exemption on bicycle, parts and accessories will go against the decision and policies adopted by the previous government to protect this industry so as to make it competitive in the international market , says Mr Avtar Singh.

Mr Avtar Singh further points out that bicycle is the cheapest mode of transport for hawkers of vegetables, fruit sellers, milk sellers and sellers grocery items and cloth in the cities and rural areas and thus provides employment to thousands of people. The children of all sections of the society also demand tricycle or kids bicycles as their first conveyance.

Mr Avtar Singh has informed the Prime Minister that in the present economic scenario, the bicycle industry had provided employment to more than 10 lakh persons- both semi skilled and unskilled.

The bicycle industry is a sort of cluster of industry and predominant dependent on its ancillary units because one part of the bicycle has to undergo 5-6 processes by these ancillaries which ultimately supply to its master units. the levy of excise duty will encourage inspector raj and the small- scale manufacturers of the cycle parts will face difficulties.

A majority of the ancillary units or job working units of bicycle parts and accessories, manufacture various parts while embossing the industrial trade mark of their master or final manufacturer. This way the exemption of Rs 1 crore being availed of by the small units will be denied to the bicycle parts manufacturers of branded goods.

It may be mentioned here that Ludhiana is the central hub of bicycle and bicycle parts manufacturing in the country and more than 80 per cent needs of the major bicycle manufacturing units in the country are met by the Ludhiana units. there are thousands of small and tiny units located in the residential areas of the town where the family members work together to earn their livelihood. The export of bicycle and cycle parts is also met from Ludhiana . 



Seminar on auto components industry
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
Speakers at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) seminar on “Auto Components Industry Destination Punjab” today asserted on the need for the upgradation of technologies and development of skills for the industry to grow.

“Punjabis are known for their entrepreneurial skills. But the need is to develop strengths and focus on effective management. Areas like technological upgradation cannot be ignored,” said Mr S.C. Agrawal, Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Punjab.

He said the industry should try to derive benefits from the Research and Development Centre that has been upgraded with the latest equipment recently.

Mr K. Jayaraman, chief consultant, ECS Limited, gave a detailed presentation on strengths and weaknesses of the auto components industry.


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