L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Six of ‘mirchi’ gang nabbed
Cars, bike, mobile sets recovered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The police has finally succeeded in busting the notorious ''mirchi'' gang that was giving sleepless nights to cops.
The Shimla Puri police today announced the arrest of six members of the gang, which specialised in looting and snatching valuables, mobiles and vehicles after throwing red-chilli powder in the eyes of the person.

The gang members also, at times, used a woman as bait for the victims. They were lured for carnal pleasures and robbed of valuables and vehicles. Many victims did not report the matter to the police out of sheer embarrassment, the police said.

The gang had been on the prowl for the past several months not only in the city but in other parts of the city. It consisted of members from Nepal, Punjab, Haryana and Bihar.

SP City-II Dinesh Pratap Singh told reporters that the police nabbed the accused from a naka last night.

Those arrested included Sunil Kumar, Gurdeep Singh, Atma Ram, Parkash Thapa, Shiv Kumar alias Kala, Satvir Singh alias Satta. Seventh accused Pilot alias Taari was absconding.

The police has recovered four autorickshaws, two Maruti cars, four TV sets, one motor cycle and a DVD player, apart from five mobile sets and other valuables from the accused.

The police said the gang members hired an autorickshaw and threw red-chilli powder and took away the vehicle when the driver had stopped the vehicle to collect fare.

At other places they had thrown the powder at passersby and snatched their mobile phones or valuables. Similarly, they looted motor cycles.



Amarinder inaugurates
City Centre project
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today formally inaugurated the Ludhiana City Centre, a prestigious Mega Project-a joint venture of Ludhana Improvement Trust and Today Home and Infrastructure Private Limited at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar here today.

Spread over an area of 26 acre, the City Centre coming up at a cost of Rs 2000 crore would bring the city on the map of many ‘‘first evers’’ in the country. The project, being popularised as Ludhiana's dream and country's pride, would be completed by February next year.

The City Centre project would change the landscape of Ludhiana by providing biggest mega shopping malls in the country, biggest atrium, 12 multiplexes with a seating capacity of 2500 persons, a food court, residential apartments, healthcare, library, museums, parks and offices space and above all a basement parking for 8,000 cars.

Besides, the centre would have a 200 room five star hotel, with a helipad on the terrace to allow the VIPs to land in the city and spare themselves from the traffic blues.

Addressing the gathering, the CM said that it was the need of the hour to set up these types of projects with a view to generate investment opportunities for big Industrial houses on one hand and massive employment potential on the other.

He further said that the interest of a common man must be protected while launching such projects.

He said that concerted efforts of the government would change the destiny of the state.

Mr G.K. Gambhir, MD Today Homes, said the centre had been designed by world's largest architectural firms-HOK, the architects of globally acclaimed Dubai Festival City, UAE and Marina Town Centre.

While the project was inaugurated today after a lot of hiccups before the start of the project, the biggest challenge faced by the LIT was the removal of jhuggis that have mushroomed right in front of the centre. Being a slur on the face of this much touted project, the jhuggies had become a bone in the neck of LIT. 

While a glittering function was organised to inaugurate the city centre project-a city within city and all the arrangements like huge shamiana was put up by the company holding the joint venture and a local five star hotel, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee voted for the poor at the function.

Speaking from the podium, he said while the government was inviting investments that would provide facilities for the rich, at the same time those living below poverty line should not be forgotten.

He was referring to the hundreds of jhuggi dwellers right in front of the city centre projects. ‘‘You must think of rehabilitating them before removing them from this place, ’’ said Mr Dullo, who had infact stalled the anti-encroachment drive started by LIT to get the land evacuated from the slum dwellers some months ago.



Railways plays spoilsport for ‘peti mafia’ 
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, June 19
The recent decision of the Northern Railway authorities, making it mandatory to mention VAT or Sales Tax registration number for parcel booking, will hit the well-entrenched 'peti mafia' where it hurts most. Moreover, unlike in the past, the excise and taxation officers will have powers to check goods booking register at any time to ensure compliance and even detain the goods in case of any suspicion.

In other words, the decision spells curtains for the traders, despatching goods worth lakhs of rupees every day to different parts of the country without proper invoices, thereby evading huge taxes. At the same time, the operations of 'peti mafia' which has been carrying out the booking of such consignments through the Railways, of course at hefty charges, will also suffer a heavy set back.

According to well placed sources, the peti mafia, engaged in booking of hosiery and other goods at parcel booking office here, was evading sales tax (or VAT) of several lakhs of rupees daily during peak season. Enjoying patronage of certain political leaders and keeping the conniving railway and taxation officials in good humour, the operators of peti mafia were said to have engaged a large fleet of three wheelers and pick-up vans for transportation of consignments to railway parcel office which, most of the times, outwitted the attempts of the police and sales tax officials to intercept the unaccounted goods.

The kind of influence and muscle-power the peti mafia wielded could be assessed from the fact that during past about one year, at least four criminal cases were booked against its operators, and the offences they were charged with, included hitting a Gypsy of a taxation official and injuring him, violation of speed limit on city roads and injuring other road-users and again assaulting an Excise and Taxation Officer here only a couple of days back.

It would be no exaggeration to state that peti mafia in the city was the mainstay of those manufacturers and traders, particularly of hosiery goods, who made transactions of crores of rupees every year without issuing any bills, paying any taxes, thereby generating massive black money. Those entrusted with the job of booking unaccounted consignments were so sure of their operations that they had taken upon themselves to pay penalty or face other consequences in case of interception of goods by taxation officials.

Not that the excise and taxation officials were unaware of this brazen evasion of tax or they did nothing to rein in the peti mafia. During last year or so, the enforcement officials, along with city police, made repeated attempts to put up barriers and check posts at all entry points to railway parcel office. However, the peti mafia operators proved too smart and foiled all such efforts, till now that was.

Now that the consignors would be required to mention their sales tax or VAT registration number, as also provide their complete address for booking of goods through railways, the outlook in the near future appeared to be gloomy for the affected section of trade. At the same time, the lucrative racket of peti mafia also seemed to be heading towards an end if the provisions of the new decision were scrupulously implemented by the railway authorities.



For Chief Minister’s ears
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh speaks about providing employment to the youth of the state, a 19-year-old youth, who was assured a job with the MC by the CM three years ago, was not even allowed to meet him during his visit to the city today.

Ashok Kumar Goswami, a resident of Shimla Puri here, was assured a job by the President of India who had visited the city in September 2003. Ashok had presented Dr Kalam with his sketch at a function and the President had announced a grant of Rs 20,000, besides a job. The President had sent him the amount and had sent a letter to the CM to provide the youth with a job.

He was offered a job as a peon with a senior official of the MC at Rs 2,500 per month as wages. He was promised that he would be taken as a permanent employee later. “But even after three years, I continue to request officials, who never listen to me,” he said outside the venue for the CM's visit.

He said he had met Mr B.I.S. Chahal, media adviser to the CM, at a recent rally and he was invited to the CM's residence in Chandigarh. “There I met another official who gave me a letter that the CM wanted to give me a job. He had asked me to hand over the letter to the MC Commissioner but I was not allowed to meet him. So I sent him a copy of the letter through a courier three days ago,” he said.

“I am very disappointed that neither bureaucrats nor elected representatives have any time to listen to the problems of the youth,” he said.

Councillor Satwinder Singh Jwaddi asked him to wait outside the venue for the function but again he was not allowed to meet the CM.

Son of a Class 1V employee, Ashok belongs to a poor family. He can make beautiful sketches. He has presented portrait sketches to many prominent personalities. He had also organised an exhibition at his house which was inaugurated by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar. He had promised him Rs 21,000 as an award which never reached him, he claimed.



Merchant’s son held for stealing bike of friend
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
In yet another case of drug addict- turned criminal, a teenage son of a rich timber merchant was arrested on the charges of stealing the motor cycle of a friend from near Ansal Plaza yesterday.

The youth, Nipun, had cleverly made a duplicate key of the friend's bike with the help of a computer. The police said the accused then called his friend to Ansal Plaza, told him to come to the fourth floor and took away his motor cycle.

Nipun and his accomplice in the crime, Ravi, then went to sell the bike claiming that they needed money. However, shopkeeper got suspicious and called the police. The youths had an altercation with the shopkeeper and allegedly beat him up. But they were later arrested by the police.



BYM to seek ticket for Malerkotla seat
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 19
Close on the heels of the district unit of the BJP, the Bharatiya Yuva Morcha has also resolved to demand party ticket for election to the Legislative Assembly, Malerkotla. The resolution was passed unanimously at a meeting held here on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the morcha has launched a membership growth campaign in the district.

Mr Surjit Gogna, district president of the morcha, said all the activists who attended the meeting resolved unanimously to impress upon the state body to get the Malerkotla seat for either the BJP candidate orthe Yuva Morcha one.

The decision was taken on the demand of a large number of supporters of BJP leaders of the area. "Supporters of the BJP leaders in Malerkotla constituency had been feeling ignored at the hands of the authorities, both during Congress Government and SAD-BJP regime as well. The trend developed after the bureaucracy came to know that at no stage a BJP leader would be launched as BJP-SAD alliance candidate," said Mr Gogna on the basis of interaction held in the meeting.

Mr Gogna further said that the district unit had launched a membership growth move. "But we will try that only clean image youth were inducted in the morcha. We want to make sure that heads we count, contained enough grey matter to understand the nationalistic policies of our parent party," claimed Mr Gogna.

The meeting also criticized the Congress Government for allegedly ignoring issues related with religious conversions, price rise and inflation.

The counterpart of the morcha had earlier sent a similar resolution to the state BJP leadership. The decision was taken at a meeting organised at Malerkotla recently.

Malerkotla town being Muslim dominated, major political parties had been launching candidates from this community. Almost all parties have faced dissidence on the issue of granting party ticket in the past. Pre-election period may be tougher than before as besides Mr Ajit Singh Chanduraian declaring his candidature, BJP leaders have also started demanding ticket this time.



MC plans optimum use of vacated land
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
The municipal corporation has chalked out a plan to make the optimum use of around 47 acres which was vacated during an anti-encroachment drive over the past two years.

The MC authorities have asked Zonal Commissioners to prepare details of lands/properties of their respective zones. According to press note by the MC, the revenue generated from the auction of this land will be utilised for providing the municipal share in projects approved under the city development plan prepared under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission.

The MC had drawn up a Rs 3,995-crore plan and submitted it to state government and government recently accorded its approval. Under the operation, illegal structures from all seven major roads of the city, including the old GT Road, Ferozepore road, Ambala road, Chandigarh road and Rahon road were made encroachment-free and all the identified 219 encroachments had been removed.

In the second phase, the focus was on the removal of big encroachments involving 400 sq yard or more and less.

In the process, possession of land measuring about 47 acres was retrieved. 



Bairagi mandal chief felicitated
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 19
Leaders of various educational, social and political organisations felicitated Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, president the All-India Bairagi Viashnav Maha Mandal and chairman Housefed in recognition of his contributions in preserving historic sacrifice of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, the saviour of Punjabi peasantry. He was felicitated at a function organised at Guru Nanak Ayurvedic College and Research Institute Gopalpur near here on Saturday.

Recollecting various phases of the mandal, speakers claimed that Mr Bawa had laid the foundation of the organisation by formally installing a portrait of the great soldier 15 years ago. “Since 1988, when Mr Bawa had installed a portrait of Baba Bahadur, presented by former MLA Jagdev Singh Jassowal, the organisation, has now become a global institute having membership of around one lakh ,” claimed Dr Balwinder Singh Walia, chairman of the trust running affairs of ayurvedic college, law college and college of education.

Speakers further claimed that by preserving historical events connected with Banda Bahadur, Mr Krishan Bawa served farmers of the state. “Mr Bawa by preserving memoirs and supreme sacrifice made by Banda Bahadur has in fact served peasantry. Farmers should not forget sacrifice of Baba Bahadur who had fought for getting them ownership rights of land they cultivated,” said Mr Jagpal Singh Khangura, a senior Congress leader.

Mr Bawa, after being felicitated assured the organisers that he would strive hard to come true to expectations of all sections of society. He claimed that his organisation, following teachings of Baba Banda Bahadur had been working for the welfare of all sections of as society.



Artificial limbs, tri-cycles distributed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 19
More than 50 physically challenged persons were provided with artificial limbs and tricycles free of cost here yesterday the Bharat Vikas Parishad Charitable Trust in co-ordination with Canara Bank as part of centenary celebrations of the bank. Mr K.R. Vadhyar, assistant general manager, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Mr Pawan Aggarwal, secretary of the parishad, said they were running a Viklang Swarojgar and Punarvas Kendra, where more than 16,000 physically challenged persons have been rehabilitated till date by imparting them training in computers, TV, refrigerator, radio repair, carry bag making, candle and chalk making.

In addition, the trust was also running a charitable polyclinic where patients were treated through allopathy, homeopathy, ayurveda, acupressure, acupuncture and naturopathy. He said a state-of-the-art polio corrective surgery and general hospital would be opened very soon here.

Mr Vadhyar presented a cheque of Rs 16,000 to the parishad on the occasion.

Prominent among others present on the occasion were Mr Yash Pal Gupta, Ms Sangeeta Soni, Ms Neelam Gupta, Ms Janak Trehan and Mr Rajinder Sharma.



Summer camp ends at Sutlej Club
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June19
The summer camp from June 3 to June 17 at Sutlej Club concluded here last evening. Salsa dance, Punjabi dance, western dance, skit, mono acting and a fashion show by Sportking Institute of Fashion Technology marked the evening.

Members, spouses and their dependents took training in various activities. The fashion show showcased garments designed by the youngsters during the workshop.

Ms Pallavi and Ms Punit, faculty members, said: “The objective behind the free workshop was to spread awareness of fashion and art. It reinforced the faith that there was potential in the field of design in the city but proper guidance was needed.”



Woman arrested with illicit liquor
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, June 19
Santo Bai of Kulgehna was arrested in the area of Aliwal and the police seized 30,180 ml of illicit liquor from her possession. She was carrying it for sale. The police has registered a case under the Excise Act.

In another incident, the Dehlon police arrested Jeet Singh of Narangwal Kalan from his village and seized 8 kg of poppy husk.A case under Sections 15,61,85 of the Narcotic Act has been registered.

Five booked: Kulwant Singh, his wife Harjinder Kaur, Balwant Singh, Kulwinder Kaur and Charan Kaur of Leelan Megh Singh village allegedly assaulted Harbhajan Kaur of the village with iron rods.

The Sidhwanbet police has registered a case. Some land dispute is said to be the reason behind it . No arrest has been made so far. 



Cash, tyres worth Rs 5 lakh stolen from shop
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Burglars decamped with cash and tyres worth Rs 5 lakh from Ludhiana Tyre and Car Care shop, opposite Moti Nagar, early this morning. Mr Ashok Bajaj, owner of the shop, said the burglars barged into the shop and took away Rs 2.50 lakh in cash and new tyres. The police has registered a case and investigations are on.



Industry condemns delay in VAT refunds
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 19
Even as a section of industrialists have started praising the government and said all industry problems are over, there is another section that has complains of continuing problems like delay in VAT refunds.

“The grim situation regarding the non-refund of VAT within the stipulated period of three months from the filing of quarterly returns, has created a tough situation for the industry,” said Mr Avtar Singh, general secretary, CICU.

Industry representatives said the government had promised to make refunds within three months, however, the delay continued which had blocked the industry's capital and was affecting its functioning, they said.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan, president of the chamber, said computerised records of the Sales Tax Department had not been updated and entries for quarterly returns from January 2006 onwards were still pending. “The inefficiency of the department and non-monitoring by the ministry concerned is creating hardships for the industry,” he rued.

The chamber said in spite of apprising the government time and again of the situation, no concrete measure had been taken so far.

Urging the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister of the state to intervene in the matter, Mr Pardhan said they should take it on priority to save small and medium enterprises that were badly hit due to the delay in refunds.



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