L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Marriage scam unearthed, 1 held
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
An alleged marriage fraud in which more than 10 girls would have become victims was busted in a sting operation enacted by activists of the Lok Bhalai Party and a team of city police here today.

Daljit Singh, a resident of Agar Nagar, was arrested in a raid at his office in Nankana Sahib complex today. He had claimed in advertisements in local newspapers that he would arrange marriages of Punjabi girls with NRIs and promised 15-day clearance of visa and other documents for immigration.

The accused had allegedly put a price of Rs 15 lakh for the work. Mr Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, working president of the Lok Bhalai Party acted as a decoy and sought details from the accused of expenses if he marries his daughter with an NRI through him.

Mr Mullanpuri in a complaint lodged with the police later said the man demanded Rs 15 lakh. After recording the conversation, he approached city SSP A S Rai who deputed DSP Jatinder Singh Khaira, Inspector Paramjit Singh and ASI Sumeet Sood to raid the office and arrest the alleged trickster.

The police during the raid recovered pictures of at least 10 girls belonging to different parts of the state who had sought to go abroad on marriage visa.

The accused has been booked under Section 420 of the IPC. The police said the accused was being questioned on how much money has he taken so far.

Mr Mullanpuri said the accused could not furnish any licence for opening such a office nor had he any credentials to claim that he could send any person to Canada within 15 days



Four advocates booked in suicide case
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
Six persons, including four senior advocates, are in a spot following the alleged suicide by a woman, former wife of one of the advocates, at her house in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar a few days ago.

The decomposed body of Bala Mittal was recovered from the house late last evening. She was found hanging from the ceiling fan. A suicide note reportedly written by her was found in the room.

Her husband Ashok Mittal and five others have been booked under Section 306, IPC, on the basis of the note even as they pleaded innocence and demanded a high-level inquiry into the case in an application to the SSP.

The police had recovered the body after residents complained of pungent smell emanating from the house. The police said the woman lived alone after her divorce several years ago. She seemed to have committed suicide a couple of days ago as the body had decomposed a lot.

Besides Ashok Mittal, she named advocates Pritpal Singh, Avinash Gupta and Surinderpal Singh Toor in the suicide note. Two of their friends, Narinderpal Singh Khangura and an FCI official, Umesh Kalia, were also mentioned as those responsible for her decision. Interestingly, Avinash Gupta was her counsel in the divorce case.

Police sources said she had become more upset after the death of her mother a few months ago. She allegedly had to rely on neighbhours for the cremation ceremony. She had started remaining indoors after that. However, Ashok Mittal has in an application to the SSP claimed that he and the others were innocent. He said he did not have cordial relations with his wife ever since their marriage in 1992. They were divorced last year. He argued that as per the law, a person could be booked for abetting suicide only if there was immediate provocation.

He said he was away to Patiala when the suicide took place. He said he was not in touch with her since 2002. He and his friends were named in the suicide note just because she had grudges against them, which were not true.

The accused have demanded inquiry into the case by a senior officer and the immediate cancellation of the FIR.



Transporters plan stir against oil price hike
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
Up in arms against the government for its decision of hike in petrol and diesel prices, transporters today said the government would have to pay for the decision in the forthcoming elections if it did not withdrawal the hike.

The transporters declared an agitation under which they would hold a massive protest meeting on June 24 in Circuit House. Various unions of transporters including truckers would participate in the meeting that would decide the future course of agitation. Addressing a gathering of goods transporters and truck operators, Mr Charan Singh Lohara, chairman, Punjab State Goods Transporters Association, said transporters would not remain mute spectators to the “excesses” of the government in terms of such hikes that have adversely hit their business.

The transporters also demanded resignation of the Petroleum Minister as the hike had badly hit common man.

“We have decided to launch an agitation for which various associations would gather here on June 24.

We want to tell the government that such abrupt decisions would not be accepted,” said Mr Lohara.

He said hike in fuel prices would create severe hurdles in the Punjab’s agrarian economy’s path towards development. “Farmers are already reeling under debt. Increase in fuel prices would only add to their woes,” said transporters.

Mini bus operators, truck operators and goods transporters demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike.

Stating that if the government did not withdraw the increase, it would have to bear its cost in the forthcoming elections.

The transporters condemned the government for the rising inflation as well. “The forthcoming elections would witness the impact of this decision if it is not taken back.”



Slum a blot on City Centre
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
The City Centre project inaugurated by the Chief Minister would be a “juxtaposition of opposites” with a huge slum situated in the neighbourhood of the Rs 2,000-crore project.

While the project would change the landscape of Ludhiana by providing mega shopping malls, multiplexes with a seating capacity of 2,500 persons, residential apartments, library, museums, parks and office space, nobody knows what would happen to the slum.

Residents of Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, where the project is coming up, have been seeking the removal of jhuggis.

According to government's claims, the City Centre would be completed by February but the Ludhiana Improvement Trust is still grappling with the problem of jhuggis even as it is bound to provide cleaner environs around the project.

Some months ago, it had taken up a demolition drive to evacuate the land but following political patronage, the dwellers could not be removed. They came back the same evening and soon shanties were replaced with pucca houses.

The jhuggis had come up in the area around six years ago. The then Chairman of the trust had ordered the removal of the jhuggis and action was taken but then there were elections and soon the jhuggis came back. Many dwellers also had ration and voter identity cards.

The jhuggi dwellers were drawing electricity through kundi connections, thereby increasing the load on the power supply in the area. The crime graph of the area also saw a rise.

Officials of the LIT prefer to maintain silence over the issue. The only hope for these residents is the decision by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, which is pending.



Birmi supporters shocked
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
The ousted Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi could never have imagined that such a fate was awaiting him while sitting besides the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh during a function organised to lay the foundation stone for the Ludhiana City Centre. He, besides other ministers and legislators, had come to the helipad to receive the Chief Minister. Even the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, who is believed to have ensured his exit appeared cordial with him at the stage.

Mr Birmi's ouster follows the strong lobbying by the PCC president, Mr Dullo, with the Congress high command for reining in Mr Birmi. Earlier, a group of councillors led by the city Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill and comprising of the District Congress Committee (DCC) president, Mr Jagmohan Sharma and other block presidents had to return disappointed as the in charge of the party affairs for Punjab, Mr Janardhan Dwivedi reportedly refused to entertain their complaints.

Following this, Mr Dullo reportedly met Mr Ahmed Patel, Political Secretary to the AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi. Mr Dullo pointed out that Mr Birmi had levelled serious charges against him. He reportedly told Mr Patel that it would be difficult to lead the party if Mr Birmi was not reined in. Following this, Mr Patel reportedly discussed the issue with Ms Gandhi who is believed to have given her approval for taking stern action against Mr Birmi. It is learnt that Mr Dullo did not leave Delhi until he ensured that the directions were not issued to the Punjab Chief Minister, to sack Mr Birmi.

It is for the second time that Mr Birmi has been shown the door in such an unceremonious way. He was dropped as a minister from the government of Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and also expelled from the party by the then PCC president, Mr Varinder Kataria again allegedly for indiscipline.

The Mayor, Mr Nahar Singh Gill appears to be the happiest man now after the sacking of Mr Birmi. In fact things appear to be working perfectly according to his plan. Because he organised the mass contact programme for the PCC president in Mr Birmi's assembly segment thus leading to animosity between the two. Mr Birmi walked into the trap by criticising Mr Dullo instead of Mr Gill and went too far in levelling charges of corruption against him.

Mr Gill and his supporters who had demanded action against Mr Birmi are overjoyed. It is a mood of celebration in the camp. Some councillors and block presidents reportedly distributed ladoos after it was confirmed that Mr Birmi had been sacked. Mr Gill who is keen to contest from Ludhiana rural represented by Mr Birmi has already won the first round.

However, Mr Birmi has a knack of bouncing back. He would not let it go so easily and without a fight back. 



Ex-jathedar sees no wrong in conversions
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
Former Akal Takht jathedar Prof Darshan Singh today said that there was nothing wrong in conversions as long as these were voluntary. He said, the BJP was deliberately raising the issue for its own vested interests.

Talking to reporters here today, Prof Darshan Singh observed that there was nothing wrong if Sikhs were converting to Christianity. He pointed out, all these conversions were voluntary. He said, as long as the conversions were voluntary nobody should have any objection. He argued, in a similar way hundreds of Christians abroad were converting to Sikhism. He alleged that by raising the bogey of conversions, the BJP was trying to wean away those Christians who were keen to convert to Sikhism.

Prof Darshan Singh also alleged that it was the BJP which was responsible for Operation Bluestar and not the Congress. He claimed that the BJP had insisted and forced the government to send Army into the Golden Temple.

The former Akal Takht jathedar, who drew flak over speaking from the Congress stage at Tarn Taran to mark the 400th year of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev defended his action saying there was nothing political in the function. He said, the mere fact that the Congress had organised the function did not mean it was political. “It was absolutely a religious function with the parkash of Guru Granth Sahib and I was duly invited there he said.

About the SGPC function, he said the SGPC president acted as a mere show piece the main string were pulled by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said, the SGPC needed to be freed from the clutches of Mr Badal who was using it for personal vested interests. 



Unity among Left parties stressed
Our Correspondent

Doraha, June 20
A general body meeting of activists of the Ludhiana unit of the MCPI (U) was held under the presidentship of Pritam Singh at Comrade Krishan Kumar Kaushal Bhavan here today.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Chander Sekhar, a member of the all-India preparatory committee, castigated the CPM leadership for supporting the anti-people policies of the UPA government and the Punjab Government.

He further lamented that at this juncture when unity of all Left parties was the utmost need of the hour, some workers led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla and Mr Harkanwal Singh, had betrayed the trust of the real Left parties by separating themselves, thus providing a serious setback to the entire movement in the country and specifically in Punjab.

Mr Kuldeep Singh, secretary, state preparatory committee, condemned the role of the state government in spending crores of rupees on false propaganda of development in the media. He said the tall claims made by the government were hollow.

He appealed to all Left parties to come together in Ludhiana on July 8 and make the convention a great success.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh Buani gave a report on the decisions of the state committee and presented a detailed programme of the party at the meeting. 



e-mails on lotteries may contain virus
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 20
Taking notice of a story published in Ludhiana Tribune under the heading ‘Lottery winner cheated’ users of Internet have called upon those not aware to ignore alluring e-mails as these besides causing financial loss might harm software and hardware of computers are accompanied with certain viruses.

Mr Vinod Sharma, a resident of Ludhiana, said he had received many such e-mails that congratulated him for winning lotteries to the tune of millions of dollars. Mostly these were purportedly sent on behalf of lottery coordinators of respective companies that included Microsoft Global E-mail Lottery, Australian International Lotto programme, Australian International Lottery Inc. and Global National Lottery Incorporate.

In some cases the senders had used logos of famous companies also. “In fact I was prompted to reply to one such e-mail which contained the logo of MSN Company. However the company representative, when contacted, denied having sent any e-mail,” said Mr Vinod Sharma.

“This is Kathryn and I am responding to your inquiry on where to report about those abusing the name and logo of Microsoft and as using Bill Gate’s name. I understand how important it is for you to take action against these people,” responded an official to a query made by Mr Vinod Sharma. He was advised not to open such e-mails as they contained certain viruses.

However, company representative had asked him to forward clandestine e-mails to them to establish their genesis. “Vinod, you may forward the e-mail to us with full message headers exposed so that I may be able to evaluate and, if needed, take action against this member if it is proven that the account is in violation of our terms of use,” reads the e-mails received by Mr Vinod Sharma from the Microsoft representative.

Interestingly, the script of majority of the e-mails was similar. “Due to mix up of some numbers and names, we ask that you keep your winning information confidential until your claim has been processed and money remitted to you. This is part of our security protocol to avoid double claiming and unwarranted abuse of this program by some participants. Be warned,” caution all e-mails to impress upon the receiver not to discuss the offer with his or her elders.

In one case an agent claimed that he would be pleased to make an appointment with him in case he wished to go to Netherlands.

In every case the lottery was claimed to be promoted and sponsored by a conglomerate of some multinational companies as part of their social responsibility to citizens in communities where they had been operational. “But I failed to understand why these multinational companies should insist on receiving a few hundred dollars toward processing charges,” argued Mr Vinod Sharma.

Mr Jagdeep and Mr Sukhwant, computer instructors at a private school, claimed that they had been receiving such e-mails in the past but they did not respond to these.



‘Rs 5,000 cr being spent on development’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar has said the government had launched a development plan to improve the infrastructural facilities in the state and funds more than Rs 5,000 crore were being spent under various schemes during the current financial year.

The minister was addressing a meeting of officers and workers at Government Girls Senior Secondary School to review the arrangements for the conduct of a suvidha camp to be held on June 24, last evening. He asserted that the Congress government had put the administrative machinery in the top gear and all ongoing works would be completed at a fast speed.

He said for providing basic facilities in the urban areas, the government had set up the Municipal Development Fund of Rs 990 crore, under which sewerage, water supply and other facilities would be provided in 128 cities and towns.

Referring to the welfare of weaker sections, Mr Johar said during this year, funds amounting to Rs 1,154 crore, which were 28.85 per cent of the state Plan outlay, had been allocated to implement welfare schemes framed for these sections of society.

He said the government had created the Dedicated Social Security Fund of Rs 450 crore to ensure timely pension/financial assistance to 11 lakh beneficiaries, including the aged, widows, orphans and physically challenged.

The government had decided to give 200 units free of cost to the domestic sector per month to all SCs, besides enhancing the amount of shagun to Rs 15,000 on the marriage of daughters of SC families.

The minister said all departments would set up their counters at the camp for completing the formalities on the spot. An inquiry counter would also be set up.



One-week training programme

Ludhiana, June 20
A one-week AICTE-ISTE short-term training programme on “Artificial Neural Networks and Fuzzy Control: Concepts and Applications” at the Electrical Engineering Department was inaugurated by Dr D.S. Hira, Principal, BBSBEC, Fatehgarh Sahib, and executive council member, ISTE, New Delhi, at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College here yesterday.

In his inaugural address, Dr Hira raised many issues concerning young technical teachers, who had converged on the occasion. He stressed that such training programmes were essential for the growth of young teachers. — OC



Drycleaners threaten stir against VAT
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, June 20
The Punjab Drycleaners and Dyers Association has threatened to launch a statewide struggle in case VAT imposed on the services provided by its members was not withdrawn. The decision was taken at a state-level meeting organised here on Sunday. Mr Mali Ram Laundry, president of the local unit, chaired the meeting.

Addressing delegates, Mr Santokh Singh Ahluwalia, president of the state body, alleged that the government was bent upon uprooting dyers and drycleaners who had been facing crisis already. “By imposing 12.5 VAT on services provided by us the government has proved that it was against youths adopting their family profession,” said Mr Ahluwalia. He claimed that people had restricted availing of their services after the imposition of the tax. “They now prefer to wash their garments at home rather than to pay tax on our labour,” added the state president.

He threatened that the association would launch a statewide struggle in case VAT was not withdrawn. “However, we will apprise the Finance Minister of our limitation before launching any move to get our demands fulfilled,” asserted Mr Ahluwalia.



Coca Cola did not keep word, claims contest winner
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, June 20
The FIFA Football World Cup contest organised by a multinational company ran into a controversy yesterday with a local resident, who had won the contest, claiming that the company had not honoured the promises made in the contest.

Mr Sandeep Singh Grewal, a local football enthusiast, had won the contest organised by a multi-national company manufacturing soft drinks. He was provided with a ticket to Germany to watch three matches live, but he claimed that he never got the papers in this regard.

However, the company officials claimed that the winner of the contest could not make it to due to discrepancies in his papers. They claimed that he was prevented from leaving the country by the federal crime police stationed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi.

Sandeep was among the 11 winners from across the country who had won the contest launched by Coca Cola in association with ESPN Star Sports channel.

Talking to the mediapersons here yesterday, Mr Grewal said a representative of the company took him to the German Embassy in New Delhi for interview.

He was asked to show the tickets and his destination. The representative failed to produce the related documents and he was denied the visa.

He said he was cheated by the company. “I suffered mental agony besides loss in my business.

Moreover, I could not go to watch the matches also, ” he said.

In a press note later in the evening, Coca Cola clarified that it had paid all expenses of Sandeep’s trip to Germany to watch FIFA World Cup matches between June 10 to 15 at Hamburg, Hanover and Berlin. The expenses included air ticket, boarding, lodging, besides ticket to watch the matches. The entire tip had been managed by SOTC.

The note further read that Sandeep had been previously denied a Canadian visa since he was carrying unaccounted cash. Given these circumstances, the authorities became suspicious about his intentions and denied him permission to travel.

Though the contest rules clearly specified that the winner needed to fulfil all visa related formalities at his end, still Coca-Cola facilitated Sandeep’s meeting at the German Embassy in New Delhi.

The visa councillor at the embassy took a detailed interview of Sandeep and subsequently refused him the requisite permission to travel to Germany, it added.



Magma Ltd

Magma Leasing Limited, a financial service company, will disburse Rs 105 crore worth of retail loans from its Ludhiana regional business unit in 2006-07. This was announced at a press meet by Mr A. S. Bedi, Regional Business Head, Ludhiana. The company added more than 1,500 new customers in the region in 2005-06. TNS



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