L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Gold, cash worth 13 lakh looted from jewellery shop
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
Two armed robbers struck in broad daylight at a jewellery shop at the Focal Point Urban Estate Phase II and decamped with gold and cash worth over Rs 13 lakh here today.

The robbers, one wearing a helmet and the other muffled, struck around 2:30 pm at Hira Jewellers, slapped the servant Sunny, carried out the robbery swiftly and left within a few minutes.

Shop owner Mohanjit Singh, in his statement to the police, said the robbers took away 1.25 kg of gold jewellery, over Rs 1 lakh in cash and his mobile phone.

He said the robbers could have fired at his wife, who was sitting in the shop, adding that he could not see the vehicle in which the robbers left as he was told not to step out of the shop or else he would be shot.

Focal Point SHO Surinder Mohan said the robbers seemed to be youths and fingerprint experts had found some clues, which might help in identifying them.

The police registered a case of robbery and put up special ‘nakas’ at main roads.


Increasing number of illegal autos sparks protest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
The increasing number of auto-rickshaws in the city that was till now ruffling the feathers of commuters and environmentalists only has now also been opposed by union of three-wheeler drivers. The union has come out in the open against the illegal plying of nearly 10,000 such vehicles in the city.

Most of these illegal three-wheelers are old vehicles that have been banned in metros like Delhi for posing pollution hazards.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune while staging a protest rally against the hike in fuel prices, representatives of the Ludhiana Auto Rickshaw Union claimed that the number of illegal auto-rickshaws could be more than the figure of 10,000.

They have, in separate communication sent to the state government, sought immediate ban on issuing new permits for plying the auto-rickshaws.

The union members stressed that this was the only method to keep their kitchen fires burning, prevent traffic choking in the city and to reduce pollution.

Mr Kuldip Singh Kuttani, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Ranjiv Kumar and Mr Ranjit Singh, all members of the union told Ludhiana Tribune that they were deeply upset at the rising number of auto-rickshaws in the city and the problem was going out of the hand of the union.

‘‘Less auto-rickshaws mean less chaos on roads and at the same time more earning for those who had legal permits and were paying taxes to the state government regularly.’’ said the representatives.

They claimed that the government was not earning anything from these illegal vehicles as the owners were not paying taxes and had also not paid any fee for the permit.

Further, the unions keep photographs and all important information about a driver who is a member of the union and the legal permit owner. This information comes in handy in case of accidents or any crime.

‘‘But no such information is available for those plying the auto-rickhaws illegally’’ said the representatives. They added that they cannot use force to stop the illegal drivers. This may cause law and order problems.

The union members took out a rally at Ghanta Ghar chowk in the afternoon in protest against the recent hike in fuel prices. Terming the hike as back-breaking they argued that the commuters would not pay more for hiring the auto-rickshaws and they would have to share the burden of the increased cost.




Firing by girls: bail plea hearing on July 12
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, June 10
The Sarabha Nagar firing case allegedly involving four girls has taken an interesting turn with the girls claiming to be innocent and falsely implicated at the behest of a son of a local leader.

Taking up the anticipatory bail application moved by them yesterday, Mr A.K. Mehta, Additional Sessions Judge, sought police records in this case.

However, no interim relief was granted. The bail application would now come up for hearing on July 12.

The bail application was moved by Sukhdeep Kaur, Neha and Tript Kaur of Sector 10-A, Chandigarh. They claimed that some of the boys, who were teasing girls in the Sarabha Nagar market, had fired into the air.

“We are students of Panjab University, Chandigarh, and were not involved in the incident. We are going to move an application to the higher police authorities for conducting impartial probe,” they claimed.

A case was registered on May 27 under Sections 336 and 34 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act.

Earlier, the police had got recorded the statement of an eyewitness in the court of Mr Tarsem Mangla, Judicial Magistrate, Ludhiana. After recording the statement under Section 164 of the CrPC, the court issued arrest warrants against two girls on June 6.



‘Buried’ file stalls road repair work
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
Residents of Aman Nagar and Akash Nagar have a bumpy ride to their destinations everyday as the 30-feet-wide approach road lies incomplete as the Local Bodies Department has withheld the file regarding the work.

The recarpeting work on the road, that caters to residents of Aman and Akash Nagar, was suspended midway around five months ago after a layer of crushed stones was spread over it. When the work was going on at a fast pace, it was suddenly suspended.

Since then, the residents are wondering what went wrong with the road. They claim that many of them were suffering from backaches and the shock absorbers of their vehicles had broken due to the bumpy road.

Sources in the Municipal Corporation revealed that the Local Bodies Department had put an objection on the development project and the payment was not made to the contractor. He refused to carry on with the work and it was left incomplete.

Residents said that they did not know anything about the inside story but they wanted that the road was metalled. “It becomes very difficult to drive on this road which is nothing but a layer of gravel. The tyres and shockers of our vehicles are always demanding replacement,” said a resident.

They added that not only the road but the street lights in the area were also non-functional. They had made several representations to the MC and councillors to get them repaired but to no avail.

Mr Ashok Kumar, husband of Ms Kashmir Kaur, area councillor, denied that the file was withheld due to some complaint. He said that there were many files with the department and this file was among those which got included in the controversial files list by mistake. He added that the file would be cleared within a month or two and the work would restart.



BJP gets into election mode
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
With elections just over six months away, the BJP seems to be in full gear. Particularly after senior leader, Mr Arun Jaitley took over as in charge of the party affairs in Punjab with Mr RP Singh as his deputy. Both have a thorough Punjabi background.

Although Mr Jaitley is yet to visit Ludhiana, Mr Singh recently held a series of meetings with the party workers. Party sources said he had been taking too much interest for the revival of the party in the state and that too at the mandal (the organisational unit of the party) level.

The sources pointed out, so far the central leaders of the party would restrict their meetings with the state office bearers. They would rarely reach to the district- level office bearers. However, Mr Singh seems to have gone right up to the grassroots level. Mr Singh was quoted as saying that the party's strength was the grass root workers who were aware about the weakness and strengths.

Mr R P Singh held meetings with all mandal representatives which lasted till two in the night. ‘‘Usually what happens is that the issue ends up with the meetings only, but Mr Singh has been following each and every detail minutely and getting back to the workers regularly and frequently’’, revealed a senior party leader.

Having worked with the ABVP and the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Mr Singh has strong roots in the organisation. He has served as the Delhi state president of the morcha also. He is actively associated with the Rashtriya Sikh Sanghat as well.

He has asked party activists to work with the target of the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance winning at least 100 seats in Punjab. For that purpose, the alliance is strengthening itself at the booth level.

The BJP general secretary, Mr Jaitley along with the SAD supremo, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will visit Ludhiana and Jalandhar on June 26. Although it will be in connection with the ‘‘Emergency anniversary’’, the two alliance leaders will formally start their election programme in the state.



AISAD regrets division among Panthic ranks
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
The All- India Shiromani Akali Dal today regretted the division among the Panthic ranks and called for unity to "oust Mr Parkash Singh Badal from various Sikh organisations like the SGPC". It asked the Panthic leaders to shed their personal egos for this.

The working committee of the AISAD met here today and passed several resolutions. The meeting was presided over by the party president, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann.

The resolution observed, "there is a need to be united to oust Mr Parkash Singh Badal from the Sikh politics and to free the SGPC and other Panthic organisations from his hold". The party accused him of forging alliance with the BJP which, it alleged, was, , "a rank communalist party, with Hindutva agenda, infiltrating into minority communities to demolish their existence".

It demanded that the SAD be 'derecognised as a political party since as it had registered itself as a secular party with the Election Commission of India and by contesting SGPC elections and other gurdwara elections. It alleged, "the party was is playing a farce with the Sikh electorate and diluting the concept of miri-piri, the essential postulate of Sikhism".

The party urged the Central Government to settle all Sikh issues permanently and end their long pending grievances. It reiterated that the Constitution of India had lost its ethics and polity and must be revised to enable people's participation, adopt economic programme, social uplift, casteless society, empowerment of women and youth and other issues.

It observed that it was necessary that by joining hands, all Panthic groups, allies and well wishers of the Panth should come forward to defeat both Congress and the SAD in the February 2007 elections in Punjab, since both had lost the credibility and trust of the people, who wanted a real alternative to get rid of both "political evils".

The AISAD also announced to bring out white papers on the SGPC, the Akali Dal Badal, comparative performance of the Akali and Congress governments from 1997 to 2002 and 2002- till date and also prepare an" economic manual" enlisting proposed reforms in agricultural economic, trade and commerce, industrial growth, generation of employment restructuring of education and healthcare services.



INTUC seeks more say in various panels
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
The Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) has urged the government to give due representation in the government committees such as the District Grievances Redressal Committees, Sales Tax Advisory Committee, Telephone Advisory Committee, Wages Committee, Employees State Insurance Committee (Vigilance ), Employees Provident Fund Regional Committee, etc, so that the interest of the workers, labourers and government employees are duly protected.

Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, Chairman, PPCC (Labour and Employment) and president INTUC, said the Punjab Government should issue a circular letter to all departments, the police authorities to give due respect to the trade union activists and their office-bearers so that dignity of labour is maintained and the labour force may help for victory in the coming Assembly election.



Protest against joke publication
Our Correspondent

Samrala, June 10
A complete bandh was observed in the town yesterday in protest against the publication of a joke in a school magazine that allegedly hurt the sentiments of a community.

Earlier, the police had registered an FIR against the principal and students for the publication of the magazine.

The protesters blocked traffic on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh and the Khanna-Machhiwara roads for two hours seeking the arrest of the accused.



PSEB official held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
The Ludhiana Vigilance Bureau today arrested a Junior Engineer with the Punjab State Electricity Board on charges of taking bribe for installing a meter in Kundan Puri.

The SP (Vigilance), Mr Gurpreet Singh, said B.S. Grewal was caught red-handed by a team led by DSP Gurcharan Singh. He said the accused had been harassing the consumer by demanding bribe.



Punjab Govt releases industrial subsidy
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, June 10
The long-pending demand of entrepreneurs of Punjab has come true after the release of Rs 50 crore by the government for the disbursement of industrial subsidy sanctioned as per the industrial policy.

The government has released some amount by demand drafts, which have been handed over to the industry owners concerned. Earlier, the government had decided to issue bonds.

This instalment covers claimants up to October 17, 1997. The whole amount of Rs 700 crore is expected to be released before the Assembly elections in the state.

Out of 700 crore, Rs 20 crore will be shared by Mandi Gobindgarh, said Mr Anil Suraj, senior vice-president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal. He has urged the state government to release the balance amount in one lot to encourage the industry.



Electroplating units seek relaxation in service tax
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 10
Small and tiny units in electroplating, bicycle parts and sewing machine industry have demanded that abetment of 70 per cent be granted to them in case of service tax.

Abetment is that proportion of the total cost by a service provider on which relaxation is given from service tax, the percentage decided according to the share of service rendered in total cost.

‘‘In its recent notification, the Ministry of Finance granted a 30 per cent abetment for units in industries like electroplating, heat treatment. But as raw material in case of these industries is almost 40-50 per cent, we want that the abetment should be increased to 70 per cent,,’’ said Mr Joginder Kumar, president, Federation of Tiny and Small Industries of India.

He said it was not the intention of the government to levy service tax on basic input used.

Local industry took up the issue of abetment with the government more than a year and a half ago. The federation is planning to meet Revenue Department officials in Delhi soon in this regard.

Meanwhile, the units that have been issued closure notices by the Punjab Pollution Control Department (PPCB) are planning their future strategy. Those who have received these notices are unhappy and termed the decision as arbitrary and unilateral.



Bank timings extended
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, June 10
Mr Bal Krishan Bansal, manager of the local branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce, told media persons that to facilitate its customers, the bank has decided to extend working hours from 8 am to 8 pm.



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