L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Jeweller, wife done to death
Tribune News Service

Enmity not ruled out

The SSP told Ludhiana Tribune that robbery did not seem to be the only motive. “No doubt the robbers were asking for money and jewellery but the manner in which they went about the crime and kept inquiring about the couple's son suggest personal enmity,” he said.

The police does not rule out the possibility that the robbers had some grudge against the couple and murdered them in such a manner.

Ludhiana, July 4
At least three armed robbers murdered Darshan Singh (45), a jeweller, and his wife in their house opposite Sahara Hospital, Civil Lines, in the wee hours today. A married daughter and grandson of the couple had a miraculous escape as they had locked themselves in a room. A teenaged maid, who was witness to the crime, also escaped unhurt. A 20-year-old son of the couple who was sleeping on the first floor did not hear anything, the police claimed.

The robbers, all clean-shaven, demanded keys of their shop in the Dhodha complex. They threatened to kill their daughter and grandson if they were not given the keys.

The couple resisted the robbery despite being stabbed several times. The jeweller's foot was stuck in the grill on top of the gate. The police said he seemed to have tried to chase the robbers. The robbers could only take away some ear-rings and a necklace worn by the woman. Darshan Singh was found hanging upside down on the gate of the house.

His wife, Paramjit Kaur, was found dead in the lawn of the house. She was also stabbed several times. The police said she too seemed to have reached the gate once and later tried to reach the room, some 30 m away, to call for help. She died on the way.

Mr Raj Kumar, a neighbour, who was one of the first to reach the spot after hearing noises, said he saw the jeweller stuck in the gate and praying for help. “His feet were stuck in the gate. My nephew, I and another neighbour pulled a rickshaw near the gate to rescue him. A PCR constable also reached the spot. By the time Darshan Singh was lowered, he was dead,” he said. He and the others went inside the house after scaling the wall.

The DIG and the SSP said a man had come to the house last evening and told Anita, the maid, that the vendor who supplied milk to the family had sent him. He claimed that he would deliver the milk at 4 am as the vendor was busy for a few days.

The maid had given the message to Darshan Singh who brushed it aside, saying that she probably misunderstood the man.

The police said at about 3 am, three robbers entered the house by scaling the wall adjoining a vacant plot. They forced their way in and took the couple's daughter and grandson hostage. She, however, managed to free herself and hid in a room.

The robbers then demanded cash and jewellery in the house, apart from the keys of the shop. The robbers also asked about their son, at which the couple said he was out of station.

The couple did not gave in to their threats and once their daughter was safe, they challenged them The police said the robbers stabbed them several times in order to flee.

The police has recovered a pair of slippers worn by one of the robbers. 



Police arrived late, say witnesses
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
The preparedness and response of the police is being questioned. The police allegedly came late at the scene of murder of a jeweller and his wife, forcing the public to ask if the victims could have been saved or the culprits arrested with quick police response.

Mr Raj Kumar, a neighbour of the couple, said they dialled 100 at least 10 times to make the police swing into action. “At first no one picked up the phone and when they answered, they said they were sending an ambulance and a PCR team,” he said.

He also claimed that the jeweller was alive for 15-20 minutes when he was stuck in the gate. “An ambulance arrived with a constable who stopped the vehicle at a distance instead of bringing it near the gate. The constable asked from a distance if the man was alive and only then would the ambulance be of some use. Later, we were shocked to find that the ambulance did not even have a stretcher,” he said.

Another witness Amar Nath said he, too, called up the police several times but no one responded.

Even though the police was alerted by 3.30 am, red alert was sounded late and nakas were set up only by about 6.30 am.

Mr Amarnath said death could not be avoided but the way the police responded to the SOS had left much to be desired.



Events at Akal Takht draw flak
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 4
The events which took place at the Akal Takht on July 2 at the time of celebrations of quadricentenary of the establishment of the Akal Takht have been condemned by cross section of Sikhs.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president, Gurmit Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj, said today that it was deplorable that the Akal Takht was being used for political purposes.

Baba Bedi said the Sant Samaj was not invited for the celebrations of the foundation of the takht. ''As a matter of fact, we have not accepted the present jathedar of the Akal Takht,'' he said.

Baba Bedi said the Sant Samaj never participated in the celebrations as an organisation and if some saints had attended the function, it was in their individual capacity.

Baba Bedi said organisers of the function should have allowed Simranjit Singh Mann to address the gathering since he was representing a section of the Sikhs. The SGPC chief and Parkash Singh Badal had adopted the authoritarian attitude and were not allowing the genuine Sikh leaders to express feelings at such religious functions. Badal was out to use the takht for his political benefits which was condemnable.

Baba Bedi also criticised both factions for the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib. They should not have quarreled in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib which was the guru of the Sikhs. Baba Bedi called upon the Sikhs to think how to save the takht from the misuse by the politicians who were bent upon establishing their family rule.

Lt. Col Channan Singh Dhillon (retd), president of the ex-services league, Punjab and Chandigarh, also condemned the happenings at the takht and described it as shameful.

Col Dhillon said the takht was being used a personal fiefdom by Parkash Singh Badal and no opponent Sikh leader was allowed to raise his voice of dissent. This was against the traditions of the takht.

Col Dhillon urged the Sikhs to save it from the clutches of Badal and his coterie. Col Dhillon also supported the assertions of Prof Darshan Singh, former jathedar of the takht, and Paramjit Singh Sarna and Harvinder Singh Sarna of Delhi for political use of the takht by Badal. 



‘Roll back bus fare hike’
Our Correspondent

Doraha, July 4
The state preparatory committee of the MCPI(U) met at K K Kaushal Memorial Hall under the presidentship of Mr Mangat Ram Longowal today.
More than 25 members from various districts participated in the meeting. The meeting discussed in detail the latest political situation in the state and felt that the Centre has failed to announce any relief package for farmers of Punjab unlike other states.

The committee has sought the scrapping of all loans of Punjab to the Centre during the period of militancy.

According to Mr Kuldip Singh, state secretary of the preparatory committee, “The increase in prices, especially in bus fares, is taxing. No tax has been withdrawn by the govt and despite this the fares have been increased.” The MCPI(U) has demanded immediate rollback of the hike in bus fares.

“People are fed up with long power cuts while the Punjab Government is boasting of development in the state,” it said. The MCPI(U) has demanded a minimum wage of Rs 5,000 per month for industrial workers.

The meeting took stock of the preparations regarding the state-level convention to be held on July 8 in Ludhiana against the “anti-people policies” of the state and Central governments.

Mr Chander Shekhar, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, Mr Kuldip Singh Hans, Mr Pawan Kumar Kaushal, Mr Satpal Bharti, Mr Inderjit Mukatsar, Rana Karan Singh, Mr Balkishan, Mr Malkiat Singh, Mr Kiranjit Sekhon, Mr Sher Singh Farvahi, Mr Hari Singh Dhindsa, Mr Amarjit Faizgarh and Mr Didaar Singh Ropar were among those present at the meeting.



Commandos in city to tackle crime
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Stung by the series of crime incidents in the city, the Punjab Police has rushed in enforcement in form of six companies from the Punjab Commando Force besides additional force sent from other districts.

DIG Parag Jain said the city had serious shortage of police personnel and the additional force had been requisitioned to jack up the confidence of the masses.

He said the additional force had been called not for any law and order problem but to use it in the prevention and detection of crime incidents.

The city had suffered further shortage of staff when over 100 policemen were shifted to Mohali after it was made a new district.



Woman robbed of cash, jewellery 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
While the city was shocked in the morning by the double murder case of a jeweller and his wife, two robbers tricked their way into the house of a painter in Jujhar Nagar, Shimla Puri, and decamped with cash and jewellery worth Rs 1 lakh.

Bimla Devi, the wife of the painter, told the police that she was alone in the house with her teenage niece when two persons, one clean shaven and another turbaned, came.

They claimed they were from a bank and were giving money to girl child in the family under a special scheme.

She refused to fill the forms. However, she went inside to give them water, which they demanded.

The two robbers allegedly followed her, took out a pistol and forced her to part with money and cash. The police was investigating the matter after registering a case.



Govt urged to fill posts of lecturer
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 4
The Public Cause, a city-based social service organisation, has expressed concern over the non-recruitment of regular lecturers in the government colleges of Punjab.
Mr Yash Paul Ghai, Director of the Public Cause, in a press note issued her today said more than 800 posts of lecturer, out of the total 2,281, were lying vacant in 48 government colleges of Punjab. This was affecting the studies in colleges of Punjab.

He said not a single lecturer had been recruited during the past eight years. The Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) had invited applications for 266 and 274 posts in 1999 and 2001, respectively. As many as 392 lecturers of various subjects were selected in February/March, 2002. But later, the state government scrapped the selections for the reasons best known to it, said Mr Ghai.

Mr Ghai has urged the state government either to revive the scrapped selections or go in for fresh selections through the PPSC.



PCC appointments disappoint city leaders
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Ludhiana Congress leaders were in for a rude shock as the list of various office-bearers of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) came out. Except for two lesser known persons none of the prominent leaders from the city figured in the final list of the office-bearers. This has led to considerable resentment among the local leadership, which was expecting at least some nominations from Ludhiana also.

Mr Hira Lal Jain, who is known more as a leader of the Jain community than that of the Congress, and Ms Veena Sobti have been appointed vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the PCC. This was obvious to cause bitterness among the leaders who have contributed their lot to the party.

Even the appointment of Mr Bhulinder Singh as the president of the rural unit has caused a lot of resentment among the party leaders. They said for the first time Ludhiana, leaders had been ignored and sidelined in such a big way.

Mr Bhulinder Singh was earlier district Youth Congress (rural) president and had resigned and dissociated from the party in 1989 and worked for the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).

This is likely to have a significant fallout since most of the senior leaders who are actively associated with the grass roots have been ignored and sidelined. The recommendations of senior leaders and ministers have also not found any favours with the PCC president, who seems to have used his own discretion for choosing his team.

These leaders have reportedly decided to bring it to the notice of the party high command. They said those who faced bullets and had always remained at the forefront of the party whether in mass mobilisation or propagating party programme had been 

They said they had nothing against Mr Hira Lal Jain or Ms Veena Sobti, but they expected that the real workers and leaders who were associated with the grass roots should also have been accommodated.

The urban Sikhs, who have a considerable population in Ludhiana, have also been left out as none among them has been accommodated anywhere.

With the Shiromani Akali Dal appointing Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, an urban Sikh, the SGPC president, urban Sikh leaders were expecting that the Congress would also make a similar appointment. But the community leaders are quite upset over being ignored.

The family of the late Beant Singh, which has a lot many stakes in Ludhiana, has come to the limelight once again. The family loyalist and Dakha MLA, Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha, holds considerable influence over the party affairs. Mr Gurkirat Singh has been appointed political adviser to the PCC president.



Rally against price rise today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
The BJP will organise a bicycle rally here tomorrow in protest against the continuous rise in the prices of essential commodities across the country. The rally will be flagged off by the BJP president, Mr Rajnath Singh.

Party sources disclosed that massive arrangements had been made for the success of the rally. This would also mark the beginning of the party’s election campaign in the city, where it had high stakes. The sources said the BJP would organise such programmes to highlight the issues concerning the common masses.

This would be the second visit of the party leader to the city. On June 25, the party general secretary and the in charge of Punjab affairs, Mr Arun Jaitley also visited Ludhiana and addressed a joint function with the Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Party leaders revealed that the BJP had slightly changed its strategy this time. While earlier, it would lay focus on the national issues, this time the party would be taking up issues of the common man’s interest, while at the same time the national issues would also be raised.

The issue of rising prices is concerning the common man the most. Particularly, the rise in the prices of sugar, pulses and fuel is being viewed with serious concern. It is not only the Opposition and the Left parties which are supporting the government from outside, even the Congress has been feeling concerned about the rising prices of these essential commodities.

The BJP leadership feels that the best way to corner the government in the state would be on the prices of essential commodities only. The party has been planning statewide protests where national leaders would address the workers. The party leaders claimed that the issue was getting phenomenal response from the masses and it was all set to unsettle the Congress government in the state.



Workers allege harassment
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Alleging that the management of K.W. Cycles group, "in connivance with the Labour Department and police, beat up workers and turned them out after getting their signature without giving them any benefits" from two of the group's factories, the Moulder and Steel Workers Union today said it would support the workers in their struggle for justice.

Addressing a protest rally outside Labour Office on Gill road here, Mr Mahinder Singh, secretary of the association, said the 44 workers, who have been turned out be taken back on jobs.

The union alleged that the management harassed workers and it was a pre-conceived plan to turn them out from the factories. "A few days ago, the management turned three workers out, who were active union members. Remaining workers got together and stressed upon management to take those workers back. It is with a revengeful feeling that the management resorted to such an action," said Mr Singh while addressing the rally.



Effigy of govt burnt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Activists of the Rashtriya Arora Khatri Party today burnt an effigy of the Punjab Government against the rising prices of essential commodities. The activists were led by Balwinder Singh Dheer, president of the party, and Rajinder Singh Lati.

They took out a procession which passed through different areas of the city. The procession concluded at Dhuri Line, where they burnt the effigy of the government. They alleged that the government had failed in curbing the prices of the essential commodities which had caused a lot of suffering for the common man.

The pointed out that it was difficult for the common man to make both ends meet as the prices of all essential commodities like wheat, rice, pulses, sugar and fuel had increased manifold during the Congress regime. They said the government had failed the expectations of the masses.



Bids called for cremation ground
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Fulfilling the long-pending demand of urban estate, phase-II, residents to construct a cremation ground in the area, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority has invited tenders for the work.

Thanking the authority for fulfilling their demand, the welfare society of the area held a meeting here today. H.S.Lamba, general secretary of the welfare society, stated that with the efforts of the members of the society, PUDA had called tenders with a tentative cost of Rs 73.65 lakh with the time limit of nine months for the completion of the work.



UCO Bank opens assets processing cell
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 4
Mr S.A. Bhat, Executive Director, UCO Bank, inaugurated Small Enterprises Sales Force and Assets Processing Centre at the Civil Lines branch of the bank here yesterday.

Ludhiana is one of the three cities, the other two being Lucknow and Hyderabad, where the bank has opened such cells.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhat said the sales force would visit small business establishments in the city and open current accounts for those with credit requirements up to Rs 3 crore. The force would also market insurance and mutual fund products for the benefit of such establishments and persons.

Regarding the employees who would be part of the sales force, he said those with aptitude for marketing had been selected and the proposals mobilised by them would be processed and sanctioned via fast track.

“The sanctioned proposals would be sent to the branch of the choice of the applicant. Four branches of the bank are attached to this cell,” he said.

The main scheme to be marketed or made available to public at the place of their business would include UCO Trader, UCO Mortgage, UCO Securities, opening of current and fixed deposit accounts and selling of life and non-life insurance products besides mutual funds.

Mr Bhat said the bank had initially launched the cells in three pilot cities, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Ludhiana and by December this year would include 14 more cities. Mr B.R. Chauhan, Deputy General Manager, said the bank expects to mobilise a business of Rs 100 crore under these schemes within a year of the opening of the new cell.



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