L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Power crisis hits industry hard
Induction furnace units asked to shut down
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
The Punjab State Electricity Board’s (PSEB) decision to shut down induction furnace units in the state to tackle the ongoing power crisis has shocked almost 10,000 units in the engineering, cycle parts manufacturing and furnace industry.

Furthermore, the electricity board has increased industrial cuts to more than eight hours every day, a measure that industry says would cripple it.

The decision has a direct bearing on over 30,000 workers in the 150 induction furnace units in the state and at least 25 per cent of the workforce in other industries. Besides, industry like cycle and cycle parts manufacturers, auto ancillary units and other engineering goods manufacturing units, which get their raw material supply from induction furnace units, will be directly hit.

Industrialists say it has become difficult for them to retain workforce as their work has drastically come down and workers want to shift to other states.

“It is a heavy blow on furnace units, which were shut down last year too by the PSEB to control power crisis. Not only would thousands of workers be rendered jobless and various industries suffer, but also the government would have to incur heavy losses in revenue. The situation needs to be tackled on an emergency basis,” said Mr K.K. Garg, president, Induction Furnace Association of North India.

The decision, which was conveyed late last evening to industry, created so much panic that the price of ingot immediately jumped from Rs 21,000 per tonne to Rs 22,000 per tonne within an hour. An increase of Rs 1,500 per tonne occurred in the last three days only.

The daily production of furnace units had already declined to 7,500 due to a three-day off. As this industry shuts down, those dependent on this industry too would get hit.

“Exports too would be hit. Such irrational measures create a long-term dent on the credibility of Indian industry. Exporters want suppliers to adhere to time schedules, in absence of which not only do we lose out on orders but would also suffer penalties,” rued Mr Satish Dhanda, convener, bicycle panel, Engineering Export Promotion Council of India (EEPC).

Increase in cuts for industry too were condemned. Mr Dhanda said, “If the government has to take any such decision that harms the industry, the least it can do is hold talks with the industry so that effective way out can be found. The schedule that has been given to us now is impractical as cuts are imposed during hours when the industry works and power supply would be on when working hours are over. Not only would industrial production be hit, at least 25 per cent of the labour would be rendered jobless.”

Mr Inderjit Singh Navyug, president, Small Manufacturers Welfare Association, said, “All raw material prices will rise resulting in an increase in cost of production. Besides the two-day compulsory off, there is a cut of more than eight hours, a measure that will badly hit us. Industry is in a very bad condition already as it is uncompetitive in comparison to industries from other states”

PSEB officials, meanwhile, said furnace units consume high power and in view of the shortage, the board had to resort to this measure.



Vikramjit case: police following revenge theory
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
The murder mystery of Vikramjit Singh, whose decomposed body was found in Solan on June 29, has deepened further with the Ludhiana police claiming that another unidentified body of a Punjabi youth, found near the spot with similar injuries on June 26, could have a correlation with his murder.

SSP A.S. Rai said the police was keeping a watch on the investigation by the Solan police regarding the unidentified body. The youth was shot dead from a pointblank range and had similar injuries on his private parts.

Mr Rai said there could be some connection between the two murders as the bodies were dumped almost at the same spot with a difference of one day only.

The police is also following the theory that Vikram’s murder could be a case of revenge killing. The police is concentrating on his personal life and that of the members of his family to know if there was some love angle or enmity behind the incident.

The police was also trying to know about his life in England from where he had returned after completing a course in business management last month. Efforts were also on to get details about his co-passengers to find out if someone had accompanied him to India. Till now there was, however, no evidence to suggest this, sources said.

DIG Parag Jain said the circumstantial evidence suggested that it was not a case of ‘kidnapping for ransom’. The youth seemed to have been murdered in a planned manner. It seemed to be a revenge killing, he said.

The police was also getting details from the checkpoints and toll tax barriers on way to Solan. Vikramjit did not go to Solan in his Honda car. This suggested that he went there with some other persons in another car or was drugged and taken there.

The day he went missing, Vikramjit Singh was planning to go to Manali with his friends.



BJP burns govt effigy against price rise
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
Activists of the BJP today burnt an effigy of the Punjab Government against the rising prices of essential commodities. They said the government had promised to provide relief to the common man but had failed.

The demonstration was organised by the Shivaji Nagar president, Mr Jaswant Rai. The district president, Dr Subash Verma, also participated. The activists alleged that instead of curbing rising prices, the government was “watching” the interests of capitalists and other big industrial houses.

They alleged that corruption was at its peak in the state. They also criticised the local MLA, Mr Surinder Dawer, for not attending to the problems of the area. 



Kidnapped child rescued within an hour
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
The city police today announced the recovery of a child of Heeran village, who was allegedly kidnapped by a migrant labourer with an intention of selling him off late last evening.

SSP A.S. Rai told mediapersons at a press conference organised at Kohara village that the accused, Sonu Yadav, had taken away the five-year-old child, Gurpreet Singh, alias Gopi, last evening after alluring him with the offer of sweets.

The police swung into action immediately after receiving an SOS call from the aggrieved family. A team of PCR cops traced the migrant labourer with the child at a roadside Dhaba, not far from the village. He had stopped there as the child was insisting on eating something, the police claimed.

The migrant was employed as a labourer in the village recently. He had established closeness with the family of Mr Harleen Singh, father of the victim, Gopi. The accused was allegedly taking the child to sell him in New Delhi, the police said.

Mr Rai and Mr D.P. Singh, SP, City-II, said the migrant labourer could have gone away with the child if the villagers had not cooperated with the police.

They said the village panchayat had done an exceptional good work by spreading the word around about the missing child due to which the police recovered the child within an hour.



Fear, shock and police inaction
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 7
The industrial and financial capital of Punjab is in grip of fear and panic. A sense of insecurity has gripped this town following incidents of murder, kidnapping and daylight robberies. People feel that daylight robberies, snatchings and kidnappings for ransom have become the order of the day.

Punjab Police has failed miserably to restore the confidence of the people despite tall claims of solving certain murder cases.

The failure of the police to nab the kidnappers of Vikramjit Singh, son of a local industrialist, has shocked traders and industrialists and the general public of the town. The most shocking aspect of the kidnapping is that the local police failed to respond to the message of the Himachal Pradesh police and Vikramjit’s body was cremated as unclaimed and unidentified. This shows how the police ‘theories’ work.

Ludhiana had witnessed the kidnapping and murder of Reema Jain, widow of an industrialist, who was murdered under mysterious circumstance a few years ago. The police had arrested a person who was later found to be innocent. The Jagraon police headed by Mr R.K. Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon police district, solved the case and arrested the accused. This was a case of contract killing and the brother-in-law of the victim was arrested.

The claim of the police that it responds to SOS calls within no time was exposed on Tuesday night when the police reached the spot of a double murder of a jeweller and his wife 40 minutes late. Where was the beat team?

The police claims that the PCR teams responds within three to five minutes. But in this case the police sent an ambulance without a stetcher and moreover, the driver of the ambulance was under the influence of liquor.

The murder of a leading multi-millionaire industrialist has not been solved sofar. The snatching of necklaces and car thefts have become common. To make things worse, the police does not register FIRs in such cases.

Traders and industrialists are feeling insecure and ask how long this lawlessness would continue in this industrial town. Should they leave this town and state and set up industries in some other states, they want to know from the Punjab Chief Minister.

Mr Tulsidas Jaitwani, president of the Punjab Beopar Mandal, says that the rising crime in the town has shattered the confidence of the traders and they are living under fear.

Mr Inderjit Singh Pradhan, president of the chamber of industrial and commercial undertakings, Ludhiana, feels that the police has lost grip on the law and order situation and they are at the mercy of the robbers and killers.

Mr Pradhan asks,“Why the law and order situation in Ludhiana cannot be controlled?”

The Punjab Police maintains that Ludhiana is short of police force. There is no doubt that Ludhiana has expanded and its population has increased to nearly 35 lakh and with the migrant labour of more than 10 lakh, the situation has become more complicated. The demographic situation in Ludhiana has changed and the city needs a strong police force.

People even talk of the police and criminals nexus. There is no doubt that the nexus between the police and the real estate owners exist and the state authorities also know of the same.

The residents of this town want the Punjab Chief Minister to pay a visit to the city to restore their confidence and also ensure the safety of their life and property. Besides, the police administration will have to adopt some better methods to restore the confidence of the people.



No dearth of book lovers in city: Book Cafe MD
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
“It is a sheer myth that Ludhianavis are not book lovers. The fact is that residents here realise the power of knowledge and value good books,” says managing director of Book Cafe, a chain of book stores being run by English Book Depot, Mr Sandeep Dutt.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Dutt, who was in city today said: “Ludhiana is among our top three high performing stores across the country, the other two being Noida and Jaipur. On an average we are selling 30 to 50 books a day in this store.”

Book Cafe, that has 30 stores across the country, including four in Punjab, is currently focusing on promoting its co-location concept, wherein it partners with other companies like food stores, etc.

Book Cafe, he revealed, has started its outlets in hospitals like Fortis in Mohali and Max, apart from food joints like Nirulas, Cafe Coffee Day and Barista and other brands like Fab India and Canon.

“Very soon you would start getting Canon cameras in our stores. We are also planning to offer stationery items,” he added.

Regarding future plans, Mr Dutt said a business to business and a business to consumer portal would be launched soon by the company.

“It will provide people with the facility of buying books online. The portal will contain details on publishers, books and prices. Even those interested in business with us can buy books of the publishers from whom we are importing. We will not charge anything additional for the service, which shall be operational by the middle of next month,” he adds.



Don’t settle terrorists in India, says Bitta
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, chief of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, today alleged that there was a plan to bring in the dreaded terrorists from foreign countries to settle them here after getting them acquitted from the courts. He alleged that the government was pursuing only a few and the weak cases against them with an apparent motive to get them acquitted.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Bitta alleged that Kulbir Singh Bira, who has recently been extradited from Canada, was being tried for just three cases where the victims were not in a position to take on him. He pointed out that in one case, victims had already backed out as they were scared in absence of proper security.

He presented a couple of victims from Philaur, who, he said, were prepared to take on Bira. One of the victims, Paul Singh of Philaur, whose 23-year-old brother Sahib Singh Sabi had allegedly been killed by Bira at Philaur on August 31, 1992, said he would ensure that the case reached its logical conclusion. He said although his financial position was weak, he was ready for any sacrifice to ensure that the killer was punished.

Mr Bitta also presented Sudershan Kumar of Goraya, whose father Ram Tirth Thekedar, the then Block Congress president of Goraya, was alleged by killed by Bira. He said while he was prepared to take on Bira legally, but the government had not included the case of his father’s murder in the trial probably because they knew that he would pursue it.



Three more gangsters arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
Four days after residents of New Madhopuri had caught two of the seven robbers that had struck at the house of a hosiery trader, Deepak Chopra, the police announced the arrest of three other members of the gang.

SP City-II Dinesh Pratap Singh said at a press conference today that the five gang members had been arrested.

They were identified as Deepak Kumar, Narinder Singh and Mohammad Akbar. The two gang members nabbed earlier by the residents were Mohammad Nafees and Jamalu Din, alias Bablu.



Notorious chain snatcher nabbed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 7
A notorious chain snatcher who had reportedly committed 27 reported snatchings in Sarabha Nagar, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Rajgurur Nagar and some other colonies in the city, has been nabbed by the police.

The alleged snatcher, Deepak, would ride his motorcycle with one hand and swiftly snatch the chains. He was allegedly involved in the crime for the past 6 years and had been arrested several times. However, he resumed his “work” in a new area after his release.

The SP city-II presented the accused before the media in a press conference today. 



Traders meet XEN on power cuts
Our Correspondent

Doraha, July 7
The All-Traders Association of Doraha met the XEN, Punjab State Electricity Board, today to acquaint him of ‘unscheduled power cuts’ and poor maintenance in the area.

A delegation comprising Mr Sarabjit Singh, president, All-Traders Association, Mr Krishan Lal Gupta, general secretary, Mr Tarlok Singh Jaggi, Chairman, Mr Pritam Singh Jaggi, senior-vice president, Mr Taranjit Sharma, vice-president, Mr Jandeep Kaushal, joint secretary, Mr Rasik Bihari Gagi, cashier, and others met the XEN to lodge a complaint against unscheduled power cuts. According to then Doraha was reeling under the cuts. Wires pass through trees and a fault occurring due to slight change in weather conditions, was daily matter, alleged.

They also blamed the PSEB for absence of staff at the complaint office. They complained that officials were generally not present whenever a complaint had to be made. Also, landline connections to the PSEB were no more available. Hence a complaint had to be made on the cellphone of the official concerned, the numbers of which had not been 
made public.

A memorandum, too was put forth by the MCP(U), seeking immediate solution to these issues.

Mr Charan Kamal Singh Aujla, Xen, said although the matter of power shortage was not local, they shall try to supply electricity to the category-I feeder by imposing more cuts on the industrial feeder.

As for the absence of officials at the complaint office, he said: “Henceforth, an SDO and a JE shall be available at all times to listen to the complaints of consumers and take action in this regard.” 



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