L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Fresh SIT to look into Devgan murder
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The city police has formed yet another Special Investigation Team (SIT) to start a fresh probe into the six-month-old murder case of Prem Nath Devgan, owner of MEFA Needles Manufacturers, as the investigation by previous teams has only resulted in embarrassment for the police.

The new SIT formed by SSP A.S. Rai will start probe from the scratch in the case, which allegedly involves questioning of several rich and influential family members and relatives of the deceased.

The team includes SP City-II Kuldip Singh, CIA in-charge Mukhtiar Singh, and SHO (Division No. 6) Gursewak Singh Brar. The fourth member, who will be SP (Detective), is yet to be named.

SSP Rai said the investigation conducted so far was not on right track and had missed several important clues.

Earlier, the police had set up three such teams to investigate the case but none of these could produce desired results.

Members of one of the teams, which had gone to Bihar for the investigation, had even gone on to claim to mediapersons there that the case had been solved with the arrest of a watchman, Rajiv, alias Bholla, of the factory from Navgachia town in Bihar.

However, the claim proved hollow as the watchman was found innocent after he was questioned here.

The watchman became a suspect after he went missing on November 27 last year following the murder.

Septuagenarian Prem Nath Devgan was found murdered in a room of his office-cum-house apartment on the factory premises on the morning of November 27.

There were seven stab wounds to the heart, abdomen and back of Devgan.

The Division No. 6 police had detained a nurse employed with a local hospital for questioning in the case hours after the murder.

Sources said the woman was probably the last one seen with the deceased around 10.30 pm.

The police had ruled out robbery as the motive for the murder.

A wallet containing a few thousand rupees was also found on the deceased. There were no signs in the room to suggest that the assailants had tried to search some valuables.

The police suspected that Devgan was probably murdered by some contract killers due to a property dispute or illicit relations.

He could have been done to death in rage by some close relative or friend, who could have done so to take revenge for something wrong done to him or her.

Devgan allegedly had several business rivals besides personal enemies.

He had two wives — Nirmala Devi in Ludhiana and Kulwant Kaur, an advocate in Chandigarh — and had two children each from both wives.

The police had found out that Devgan’s relationship with his second wife Kulwant Kaur had gone sour in the late 1990s but the two had started seeing each other again about a year ago.

Devgan had also made some changes in his will recently. Unlike the first will, he had given Kulwant Kaur and his children more share in his property, the previous police investigation had claimed.



Dullo’s proposed tour with Mayor irks Birmi
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
In a meticulously planned political move targeting Chief Parliamentary Secretary Milkiat Singh Birmi, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Shamsher Singh Dullo will tour former’s constituency along with arch rival, Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, for a mass contact programme with people tomorrow.

Mr Birmi, who is irked at the programme, has expressed his reservation against the tour.

However, he cannot oppose the tour of the PPCC president with the Mayor, as the latter happens to head the local Municipal Corporation and the tour has also been planned on the ward basis.

The Mayor has selected 14 wards for the PPCC president’s tour with most of these falling in the Ludhiana Rural Assembly segment.

The segment is currently being represented by Mr Birmi. Mr Gill wants to contest from this segment in the forthcoming elections.

Mr Birmi and Mr Gill have a long history of political rivalry with both being strong contenders for the party ticket from this Assembly segment.

While Mr Birmi got the ticket twice during the last three elections, Mr Gill managed it only once. Mr Gill has reportedly decided to give it a shot once again.

He has managed to garner support in party quarters, including Mr Dullo.

During his four years as Mayor, Mr Gill has groomed and nourished most of the wards falling in the Ludhiana Rural Assembly segment.

Getting the party nomination from this Assembly segment has remained his constant aim. It is in the same context that he has organised tomorrow’s programme. The Mayor has also been making rounds of these wards on his own.

He claims that he has been treating all wards, even those represented by the opposition parties, as his own.

He maintains that the 14 wards, which Mr Dullo will tour tomorrow, have been randomly chosen. He claims that not all, but only some, of the wards fall in the Ludhiana Rural segment, while other fall in Assembly segments like Dakha.

Mr Birmi has reportedly conveyed to the PPCC president that he has not been taken into confidence during the finalisation of the programme.

Sources close to him say he regrets not being taken into confidence before organising such a mass contact programme. Mr Birmi is expected to stay away from tomorrow’s programme.



JET topper says he will never leave India
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, June 3
That a shy 18 year-old boy of an agrarian family from a school in Ahmedgarh would top the Joint Entrance Test (JET) has stunned everyone, including the parents and Principal Kartar Singh of Anand Iser Senior Secondary School , Ahmedgarh.

Incidentally, Manveers's mother also teaches English in the same school. His father is a farmer. Manveer wants to do mechanical engineering and wants to join the Central Tool Room.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, he said, "I never expected such a great result.I believe in self study and studied for 4 to 5 hours only. It was only during the last 20 days that I took coaching from a coaching centre in Ludhiana. I want to stay in India, my native land, and would never want to go to a foreign country. I would like to serve in the Central Tool Room and devise new implements that would contribute towards rural employment. I have no desire to go abroad and earn in dollars. I come from a simple family and have certain values. I want to live up to them."

Asked if he would like to join his father in agriculture, he refused and said land holdings had consistently shrunk due to burgeoning families. Unless farming was done on a large scale, it would not be profitable, he said.

Manveer is very shy and has to be coaxed into talking. The other thing that sets him apart is that cricket does not interest him.



Johar turns away protesting teachers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
The Democratic Teachers’ Front, the Adhypak Dal Government Teachers’ Union and the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union held a rally in Chattar Singh Park here today. From the park, they went to Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar’s house to present a memorandum their demands, but the minister refused to accept it and asked them to come to Chandigarh to meet him.

The teachers were protesting for the primary teachers who had been promoted against vacancies in senior secondary schools and had been posted in far-flung areas. They demanded that they be posted in nearby places. They said the teachers had wasted one month in getting their jobs adjusted and they had to take the help of the touts.

The teachers objected to Mr Johar’s statement of meeting him in Chandigarh. They said they had come to meet him at his residence as he had announced that people could meet him in his house in case of any problems. The police also stopped the marching teachers from entering his house and Mr Johar stood steadfast not entertain the teachers.

However, the teachers were hell bent on giving their lists of demands to the Education Minister. They shouted slogans and urged him to listen to their demands. Tension was building, but DSP Bakshi took control of the situation and accepted the memorandum. Bhajan Singh, Joginder Azad, Baldev Singh Mangat, Gurmeet Singh Mohi, Balraj Singh and leaders of different organisations while addressing the teachers said there was a need to put an end to corruption in the education field.



Local admn draws flak over protest during CM’s rally
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The entire civil and police administration in Ludhiana has drawn a flak from the senior officers over the protest by the unemployed veterinary pharmacists, who shouted slogans against the government the moment the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, started his speech at the inauguration of the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University yesterday.

While the Chief Minister is believed to have taken a causal view of the incident, senior officers in Chandigarh have reportedly taken a serious view and asked for explanation from the local officials. Moreover, the unemployed pharmacists had announced much in advance that they would be staging a protest during the Chief Minister’s rally. Senior officers reportedly called up the local officials yesterday only.

The security personnel were taken aback by the protest. Although the protesters did not want to create any disturbance at the rally and wanted only to register their protest before the Chief Minister, the police panicked as they (the protesters) had reached quite close to the stage from where the Chief Minister was making his speech.

The pharmacists were chased out with a mild lathi charge by the police. Had it not been for the presence of the media at the rally, they would have faced a ruthless fate at the hands of the angry cops who found themselves caught unawares.

Meanwhile, the unemployed pharmacists justified their protest in front of the Chief Minister saying they had no other way out. They claimed that even the Chief Minister himself and the Animal Husbandry Ministry were in favour of absorbing them in the state government. They pointed out that there were over just 200 unemployed veterinary pharmacists in the state against 800 posts lying vacant. Interestingly, the university announced yesterday only to start a regular course for the veterinary pharmacists from this session.

Two of their colleagues are already on fast unto death. They said that they would continue their protest and would not hesitate from intensifying it. They asserted, “We will not let our colleagues die”. They also regretted that they were forced out of the rally venue when they were trying to stage a “peaceful protest”. They alleged that the police beat them brutally and mercilessly with lathis and blows. They regretted that nobody, including the Chief Minister himself, bothered to ask them about the reason for such an extreme step of staging a protest at the rally.



Mazdoor body threatens dharna at Parliament
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 3
The All India FCI Mazdoor Federation, Punjab, has threatened to stage a protest in front of Parliament during the ensuing session in case the contract system was not abolished from the central food procurement agency according to the agreement arrived earlier and a direction by the apex court. The warning came at a state level meeting of the federation held here yesterday.

Addressing the activists of the trade union, Mr Amar Singh Bhattian, state president of the federation claimed that the authorised board of the corporation had approved the reports submitted by various depots of the state. He urged the authorities to implement decisions taken earlier during meetings with the union leaders. “Even the authorities had assured us that all demands of the union, including abolishing the contract system and the restoration of services of retrenched workers, would be implemented,” said Mr Bhattian.

He threatened that the union activists would march towards Parliament and stage a protest during the ensuing session in case all demands were not met.

Accusing the authorities of acting on the behest of certain external forces, Mr Bhattian alleged that the management was bent upon selling the agency to foreign companies. “The sinister designs of the management, if accomplished would adversely affect all sections of society, including peasants, workers and the traders,” apprehended Mr Bhattian.

Mr Karam Deol, Mr Amar Nath Koom Kalan, Mr Baldev Singh Bhikhi, Mr Ranjit Singh Sandaur and Mr Ram Pal Moonak spoke on the occasion.



Congress govt pro-capitalist, says Libra
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 3
The Central and the Congress government in the state is befooling Dalits and farmers and is supportive of the capitalists, said Sukhdev Singh Libra, SAD (B) member of the Lok Sabha, while talking to media persons at the residence of youth Akali leader Bhupinder Singh today.

He said the government granted a subsidy of 60 crore to selected persons although their units were earning huge profits. It was helping capitalists by declaring various concessions for the SEZ, he added.

The right to strike work had been withdrawn and if they still went ahead with it, then ESMA was invoked, the MP lamented. Around 20000 acres of land had been acquired from the peasantry and given to the chosen 95 top capitalists, Libra said.



SDM report indicts hospital staff
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 3
Jaspal Mittal, SDM, Khanna, has submitted a report on the matter of non-admission of a pregnant migrant woman and the subsequent delivery of the child under the scorching sun in the hospital premises.

It is understood that the report indicts the medical officer, staff nurse and the gyne specialist of carelessness , after noting down the statements of all concerned, including Sajan Kumar, husband of Manju, the patient.

It may be recalled that the matter was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister during his visit to the city on May 29, who then ordered an inquiry in to the matter.



Prem Nath Mehta cremated
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 3
Mr Prem Nath Mehta, father of Mr Parminder Mehta, secretary, Punjab Pradesh congress committee who died yesterday was cremated today at Daresi road crematorium. The funeral procession was largely attended by leaders of various political and social organisations.

Mr Harnam Das Johar, Minister for Education, Mr Rakesh Pandey, Minister for technical education, Mr Surinder Dawar, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon, MLA, Mr Harmohinder Singh, President, District Congress Committee (rural), Ludhiana, Mr Amarjit Singh Bhatia, Senior Vice President, Shiromini Akali Dal and Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mayor, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, condoled the death of Mr Prem Nath Mehta and expressed their sympathies with the bereaved family.



Indo-Canadian forum formed
Our Correspondent

Samrala, June 3
A new organisation called "Indo Canadian Friendship Forum" has been formed here today at the local civil resthouse, according to advocate Parminder Singh Gill, its president.

Mr Gill said there was a meeting at the local civil rest house of like-minded persons interested in playing a constructive role in friendly relations between the people of India and Canada.

At the meeting, it was also decided that this forum would organise seminars, meetings and visits in both the countries to make relations more cordial between the people of the two countries.

The office bearers of the forum elected unanimously were Parminder Singh Gill, Balwinder Singh, Sham Singh, N.S. Sitta and P.S. Batra.



Migrant arrested in kidnapping case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The CIA Wing-I of the police today announced the arrest of a migrant who had allegedly kidnapped a minor girl two months ago. The girl was freed from his clutches.

DSP detective Bhupinder Singh said a police team led by SI Sandeep Wadhera had nabbed the accused from near Dhandari railway station today.

He was booked in April this year on the complaint of the parents of the girl. The DSP said the girl has been sent for medical examination and the FIR may be amended later on if the evidence suggested rape.



Poultry industry suffers even as chicken prices rise
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 3
The poultry industry here continues to suffer losses even as prices of eggs and chicken have increased and domestic demand has improved. Industry representatives say the continuation of ban imposed by Jammu and Kashmir despite assurances to the contrary by the government of that state is causing daily losses to the tune of Rs 1 crore to the industry.

Interestingly, Punjab’s poultry farmers, who had banned the supply of feed and hens to that state, had lifted the ban after 232 days on “an assurance from the Jammu and Kashmir Government”.

“However, the government of that state backed out and all that it did was withdraw the Rs 2 per chick it was imposing on imports from Punjab. The ban remains on other poultry products causing losses to the tune of Rs 1 crore everyday to our industry,” said Mr P.P.S. Gill, general secretary, Punjab Poultry Farmers Association.

The industry also met the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was here yesterday, and apprised him of the situation. The assurance by the Chief Minister, however, failed to bring any hope to this industry, which had been suffering since February this year ever since the first news pertaining to bird flu was received. The Chief Minister had given a similar assurance to the industry last month too.

“On May 28, we met our Animal Husbandry Minister and the poultry industry of Jammu and Kashmir met their minister regarding the ban we had imposed. We learnt that the Jammu and Kashmir assured that the ban would be lifted. However, they backed out and the situation remains the same”.

Post news of bird flu in February this year, this industry suffered a decline of more than 70 per cent in demand. The losses got aggravated when Jammu and Kashmir too imposed a ban. As per estimates, the industry had been suffering a daily loss of Rs 2 crore. Those in this industry have been facing problems not only because of decline in demand and the ban, but also because of issues like difficulty in getting credit facilities as their profits had declined.

Improvement in demand for poultry products and rise in egg and chicken prices have brought some relief to this industry and reduced its losses. The current farm rate of eggs is Rs 99 per 100 eggs and for broiler is Rs 52. While this has helped retailers immensely, poultry farmers are still looking forward to better days ahead as even after the betterment of domestic demand, they are suffering heavy losses.



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