L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Reduction in fuel prices should have been more, say residents
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
After facing continual increase in petrol and diesel prices, the city today eagerly waited for the reduction in fuel rates to come to effect. Even as they felt the reduction should have been more, rush at petrol stations in the city reduced significantly as most people waited for the reduced rates to be implemented from midnight. Petroleum dealers, however, said the benefit to residents could have been as high as Rs 6 per litre for petrol if the government took measures towards rationalising taxes.

"Even after this reduction, petrol and diesel prices in Punjab remain significantly high in comparison to the neighbouring states like Haryana and Himachal Pradesh on account of the high taxes here. The consumers are getting a benefit of only Rs 2, whereas if the taxes are rationalised, this benefit will be Rs 6 per litre in the case of petrol," said Mr Ashok Sachdeva, president, Ludhiana Petroleum Dealers Association.

City residents, who termed the move as a pre-election strategy, said the reduction should have been more. "Considering the fact that the past five years have witnessed an almost Rs 15 per litre rise in the price of petrol and Rs 10 in the case of diesel, this reduction is miniscule. It should have been more. But still, the news is welcome as at least it is not an increase. We were tired of continuously hearing of an increase in fuel rates for the past few years," said Mr Kamaljit Singh, a local resident.

Transporters also said the reduction should have been more. "It is merely an eyewash. Fuel prices have become unaffordable for the common man and the government should have thought of better strategies to bring prices under control. Rates should be reduced more," said the Chairman, Punjab State Goods Transport Association, Mr Charan Singh Lohara.

Asserting that the octroi should have been abolished on petrol and diesel, dealers said the impact of abolishing octroi on fuel would have brought a decline in prices of other commodities as well.

"There has been a significant decline in business on account of the high fuel rates in the state. The taxes causing this difference are value added tax (VAT) and cess. Besides, octroi was not abolished on petrol and diesel due to which a sharp reduction in business has taken place in the past few months," said Mr Sachdeva.



Killer-cum-rapist on the prowl in city
Minor girl found murdered
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Wailing parents of the victim girl Anjali.
Wailing parents of the victim girl Anjali. — Tribune photo by Sayeed Ahmed

Ludhiana, November 29
A serial killer-cum-rapist is suspected to be on the prowl in the city with third minor girl found murdered near Phulanwal village this afternoon.

Two minor girls were earlier found raped and killed near Barrewal and Dhandari earlier in the past two months with almost similar modus operandi. All three victims were school students and were allegedly kidnapped while returning from school.

The badly decomposed body of Anjali, a six-year-old girl , missing since November 10, was found from a pond near Phulanwal village this afternoon. The body was in such a bad state that postmortem examination was not possible today.

Her parents lived near Pakhowal road. She had gone to school that day but had not returned. Anjali had her school uniform on when the body was recovered. The police said the uniform was not torn to suggest rape but there did not seem to be any other motive behind the murder.

The police has not declared officially about the possibility of a serial killer at large, who was targeting minor girls only, but police sources reveal the pattern of all three incidents were more or less the same, suggesting it could be the handiwork of one person.

On October 10 early morning, an 11-year-old girl, daughter of a migrant labourer, was found raped and murdered in Dhandari.

The body of Reshma (name changed), daughter of a factory labourer, was found near the bathrooms situated at a distance from a labour colony in Dhandari. She was a student in a local school. She was missing since a day earlier and was last seen leaving the school with other students.

The body of the girl was spotted in the wee hours near the bathroom by a labourer. No one had reported hearing or seeing the girl with any person. Postmortem examination of the deceased claimed that she was strangulated to death by the accused. Her ribs were also broken.

In the first case, another 11-year-old girl was found raped and murdered on the Barewal side banks of the Sidhwan Canal on September 20.

The naked body of the girl, daughter of a migrant labourer, was found from the bushes near the canal bank, about 200 metres from the Raghunath police post. The family lived in Barrewal.

The police said the girl was a student of a government school in Barrewal. Her anxious parents had lodged a report in the Raghunath police post late last evening. They searched at several places through out the night unknowingly that the body was lying not far away.

The girl usually walked down to her home with a female classmate. That day, they parted near the police post. The victim girl was seen crossing the post but did not reach home.

The postmortem examination had established she was raped and strangulated.



Retired but not relieved, teachers working sans salary
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, November 29
Mr Khem Singh, a teacher of Government Multi-Purpose Senior Secondary School, retires tomorrow after 35 years of service. However, there will be no farewell party for him.

Rather, his colleagues feel sorry for him as even after his retirement he will continue to work in the school at his post till March 31, 2007, and that too without salary. This is because of a notification -- 17-Leg/2006 of May 25, 2006, issued by the Punjab Government. The notification states that the teachers retiring during the year will continue working at their posts at the last drawn salary minus pension.

“The first part of the notification is being implemented, but the second part of the notification regarding the salary is not being fulfilled as the Treasury Office, Ludhiana, says it has not received any notification as yet. Many retired teachers have been working for five, six months without salary. These teachers have been urging the government to release their salaries,” said Mr Prem Kishan Bassi, a teacher at the multi-purpose school.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Bassi said, “I retired in May and am still teaching mathematics. But no salary is being paid to me and my other colleagues, who are also serving after retirement. Every time we go to the Treasury Office we are told that ‘no notification, no salary’. Why is the notification not being implemented in totality. There is no joy as we feel working like slaves after superannuation. We request the government to release our salaries. Moreover, there is no clear cut policy on earned leave and casual leave.”



Anita Jain murder case accused surrenders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
The city police today announced that a lottery trader, wanted in the one-year-old murder case of Anita Jain of Brahmpuri Colony, had surrendered in a city court yesterday. The police has obtained his remand till December 1.

Mr Rakesh Aggarwal, SP City-I, said in a press conference here today that the accused, Sanjeev Jain, had confessed to his crime.

He had admitted that he had killed Anita in order to loot Rs 1.50 lakh kept in her house by her parents.

The accused had allegedly absconded after the crime and was arrested with the help of flashing his picture on TV channels and newspapers across the country.

Anita was murdered on December 29 last year.



Body of woman found
Our Correspondent

Amloh, November 29
A badly decomposed body of a young woman was found lying in the millet fields at Salani village last evening. Bhag Singh and Swaran Singh, both brothers and residents of the same village, noticed the body in the fields and informed the Sarpanch, Mr Raghbinder Singh. The sarpanch informed the police.

The sarpanch told this correspondent that an announcement was made from the gurdwaras of Majri Kishne Wali and Salani villages today. People from nearby villages came to see the body but no one could recognise it.

The body was brought to the local Civil Hospital today. Dr Satnam Singh, Senior Medical Officer, said the condition of the body was so bad that post-mortem could not be performed in the hospital. The case was referred to the Civil Surgeon, Fatehgarh Sahib, for its further referral to the Medical College, Patiala, for post-mortem.



While govt dithers on Budda nullah, Baba shows the way
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
At last there is some hope for Budda nullah - the drain of sorrow. An army of 5,000 kar sewaks led by a religious leader of Baddowal, Baba Jaspal Singh, will start cleaning the nullah at KoomKalan on December 6 when the Irrigation Department will release water into the Sirhind canal specifically for the cleaning purpose.

Announcing this here today while addressing mediapersons, Baba Jaspal Singh said the panchayats of 50 villages along side the nullah had offered all kinds of help for the kar sewa.

He said for the entire cleaning project that had been entrusted to him by the Principal Secretary, Mr P. Ram, a two-pronged strategy had been formed. The kar sewaks would clean the nullah starting from Koomkalan to Ludhiana and move toward Chamkaur Sahib. The extra water released into the canal would be used to pump out concentrated pollutants. Once the entire water body was cleaned up, the religious leader and his kar sewaks would personally visit the polluting units and urge them to vow not to discharge toxic water into the nullah.

The Baba said once the nullah was cleaned up they would strengthen its both banks and lay a road on one side and build a forest belt on the other. He would provide four lakh saplings of neem and pipal to the kar sewaks, who would plant them on the bank of the nullah.

‘‘If all goes well, we are going to convert the most polluted drain into a recreational place. We hope if a religious body like ours requests people not to pollute it further, they would listen to us. ’’ said Baba Jaspal Singh.

‘‘We are going to transform it into a peoples’ movement. While 50 panchayats are already with us, more are expected to join in this work of cleaning that will take around two years,’’ he said.

Besides the government machinery that had already been installed at Balloke to carry out the desilting work, as many as 85 tractor owners from various villagers had volunteered to do the work. A 24-hour langar for the kar sewaks would be organised on the banks of the nullah. The Baba would himself provide financial help for the entire work.

He said he would welcome all other religious organisations to come up and join hands with him for this purpose. ‘‘Already 20 religious leaders have contacted us and they all would be there on December 6 along with their disciples. The effort will form a history for the world to follow’’, he said.



BJP leaders submit memorandum to MC Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
Leaders of the Bharatiya Janta Party(BJP), Tagore Nagar Mandal here, today submitted a memorandum to the Commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation in favour of their demand to link the elevated road to parts of the old city.

In the memorandum, Mr Sandeep Kapoor, a leader, said the railway overbridge that had to come up in place of the historical lakkar bridge was incomplete and residents were feeling cheated as the project had failed to come up to their expectations.

He said the MC had spent Rs 51 crore from the public exchequer on the elevated road which was non-beneficial to the residents of Civil Lines, Field Ganj, Chaura Bazar and other parts of the old city as it did not connect them to the new road.

Mr Parvin Bansal, leader of Opposition in the MC House, said as per the original design conceived during the SAD-BJP regime in the state, the elevated road had to be connected to Civil Lines through the overbridge, Raikhy cinema, multiplex parking of the MC and machinery market.

‘‘But, to take the credit for the elevated road, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh inaugurated the incomplete project. Now, we will come back in power and get the road connected to other city areas, ’’ said Mr Bansal.

He added that work on the overbridge in Civil Lines was suspended for the past one-and-a-half years, but no efforts were made to get the work restarted. The project was worth Rs 4.26 crore when it was started. But, now the delay had caused the estimated expenditure to grow to Rs 10 crore, said the leader.

‘‘This bridge had to connect the elevated road from near Clock Tower. But this did not happen. The MC has cheated the residents of Civil Lines who have to go all the way to the Jagraon bridge to take the road. It is easier for them to go from under the Damoria bridge and reach the Jalandhar road. ’’ added Mr Bansal.

The activists said the residents of Field Ganj were the worst hit as entire traffic coming from the old city was passing through Field Ganj to go to the Jagraon bridge resulting in a total chaos.

After listening to them, the Commissioner said they were going to connect the elevated road at Luxmi cinema and tenders had already been called for the project.



UK Parliament to discuss issue of compensation to WW II veterans
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, November 29
British Parliament will discuss the issue of non-payment of compensation to World War II veterans on December 5, with particular reference to those who fought on the western front. The war veterans who fought on the eastern front in the war were given some marginal compensation. This segment of the war veterans also remained prisoners of war (PoWs) under the Japanese. The case was taken up by Lt Col Chanan Singh Dhillon(retired) president, Indian Exservices League, Punjab and Chandigarh, and he received information today from British Parliament about the proposed discussion in the House. Colonel Dhillon has also been asked to be present in London for the debate.

Colonel Dhillon, who has been fighting this case with the British Defence Authorities since 1994, said here today that while those war veterans who had fought on the eastern front were given some compensation, those who fought on the western front were asked to have direct parleys with the Indian and Pakistan Governments. But Colonel Dhillon insisted that the Second World War ended in 1945 and India and Pakistan became independent in 1947.The British Government was morally bound to look into the case of payment of compensation to those who fought on the western front as they had also suffered severe punishment as prisoners of war.

According to Colonel Dhillon, the British Defence authorities had also taken the plea that the parliamentary committee of British Parliament had recommended compensation only for the war veterans of the eastern front.... in view of the severe treatment given to them by the Japanese during their internment. He pleaded that war on both fronts was similar and it was not advisable to compare and underrate the travails of the fighting forces on the western front. The conditions were just as severe in North Africa, and also when the Germans were pushed back from North Africa, thousands of prisoners were drowned in the Mediteranian Sea. No effort was made to verify their antecedents and issue them death certificates.

Colonel Dhillon said a motion was presented in British Parliament by Mr John McDonald which was supported by as many as 57 members of Parliament. This motion would be debated on December 5 in British Parliament. Colonel Dhillon could not give the exact number of the war veterans who had fought in World War II, but maintained that at the start of the war a very large number of Indians had joined the British army. As the war turned in favour of the British, they started the demobilising process.

But there were already several Indians on the battle front. A majority of them had died and their kith and kin had not been given any compensation. Colonel Dhillon was not sure if he would be able to go to London to see the debate in Parliament there, but he was in touch with some of the members there.



PAU pensioners resent non-payment of DA, travel concession
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
Pensioners of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have expressed grave resentment over the denial of travel concession and the latest instalment of the dearness allowance (DA) announced in July last.

According to Mr R.R.Katyal, a retired PAU employee and general secretary of the Kidwai Nagar Welfare Society, there are about 2,000 pensioners of PAU. They have been denied the benefits of travel concession for the past three years.

He said so many representations had been sent to the authorities concerned, but to no avail. He said, "Our efforts are proving futile as we are told that funds for this purpose are not available".

He said even the DA announced by the Punjab Government in July had not been paid to them, although it was being paid to the Punjab Government employees. He said it would not lead to any major financial burden on the state as it was already paying the same to its own employees and pensioners. He said the state must treat PAU pensioners and employees at a par with its own employees.



Financial services yet to reach all sections of population
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
Despite a phenomenal growth in the financial sector during the last decade in the country, a substantial chunk of the population still lacks the basic access to these services. According to a recent study on the subject, India can achieve 8 to 10 per cent growth if the financial service sector expands its area of operation and provides access to credit and deposits to more segments of the population.

In an analysis of financial services sector conducted jointly by Prof Ashwani Bhalla of Postgraduate Department of Commerce of SCD Government College and Dr Parvinder Arora, Associate Professor in IMT, Ghaziabad, it has been found that during the last decade financial services sector has witnessed total transformation in terms of its growth, product innovation, outlook, style and range of services. In spite of this growth, 60-80 per cent of the enterprises and individuals in the country lack access even to basic financial services such as saving and credit.

The study concludes that there was a direct link between financial services access and growth of economy and poverty reduction. It found that several forces, main among them being the customers, competition, technology and distribution were reshaping the financial services industry. Volatile cash flows had prompted customers to seek total solutions at one-stop-financial services-shop. The convergence in the industry was making it highly competitive.

It found that technological advancements had influenced distribution channels, customer needs and the way in which the industry did business. However, this transformation had been the culmination of extensive well sequenced and coordinated policy measures aimed at making the Indian financial sector efficient, competitive and stable.

Regarding the change in outlook, the study has observed that there was total change in competitive dynamics, buyers' outlook, structure of financial players, product and process innovation.

The analysis further observed that banking sector had witnessed strong growth both in deposits and advances as well in consumer finance. This growth was coupled with growth in number of new financial products offered to meet different consumer requirements, which were tailored according to their specialized needs.

One of the important side of the banking segment is that most of the banks were now deviating from their traditional role of accepting deposits and granting loans.

Now the banks were emphasizing on the Customer Retail Marketing (CRM) which means the massF-market banking where individual customers typically use banks for services such as saving and current accounts, mortgages, loans (e.g. personal, housing, auto, and educational), debit cards, credit cards, depository services, fixed deposits, and investment advisory services etc.



Villagers seek widening of road
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, November 29
The panchayats of Kothe Rahlan, Dalla, Mallah and Manuke villages, along with the Market Committee, Hathoor, and Truck Operators Unions of Jagraon and Hathoor, submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, regarding the widening of the road leading to Gurdwara Mehdiana Sahib from here. They have demanded that the government should sanction the project on a priority basis as the road, which is 13.85 km long, requires Rs 2.77 crore and is an important one connecting Jagraon with the newly carved out district, Barnala.

The present width of the road is 10 ft. But, the residents are seeking that it should be increased to 18 ft seeing heavy traffic on this stretch of the road.



Woman succumbs to burn injuries
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 29
Amarjit Kaur of Seelon Khurad village, near here, who was allegedly set afire last morning for refusing to divorce her husband, succumbed to her injuries today. Her husband allegedly wanted to go abroad by marrying some NRI.

The Dehlon police has added Section 302 of the IPC to the FIR registered against four persons, including two women of the in-laws family, in the case. All except one of the accused were absconding.

According to Mr R.K. Jaiswal, SSP, Jagraon, Amarjit Kaur had stated before a judicial magistrate that Devinder Singh, her husband, Teja Singh, father-in-law, Baljit Kaur, sister-in-law, and Surjit Kaur, mother-in-law, had set her afire when she was working in the home last morning. “When I refused to succumb to pressure from my husband and his parents to sign the divorce papers to enable him to marry another woman and go abroad, they set me afire and left me to die,” stated Amarjit Kaur before loosing consciousness.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused had used kerosene oil to set her on fire. Though kerosene oil was not used in routine, the accused had brought it on the pretext of a thinner for paints and varnishes.

The investigations further revealed that tension had prevailed between the two families for a long period and the panchayats of Seelon Khurad village and Pamal village (parental village of Amarjit Kaur) had to intervene many times to absolve issues.

Amarjit Kaur was forced to live at Pamal village for more than three months. She was brought to Seelon Khurad about three months ago. “She agreed to return to her in-laws family only being assured by the panchayats of the two villages. Affection for her children was another reason that she had been compromising with the situation,” said a relative of the deceased while talking Ludhiana Tribune.

Gurbax Singh, a brother of Amarjit Kaur, alleged that the accused had been harassing his sister for bringing insufficient dowry. “Though we have been meeting their demands earlier also they wanted her to bring more money for buying a tractor now,” Gurbax Singh reportedly disclosed to Rachhpal Singh Dhindsa, SHO, Dehlon.

Meanwhile, a police party arrested Teja Singh near Khanpur village when he was trying to leave the area. Separate parties had been sent to arrest other accused, claimed Mr Jaiswal.

The body was handed over to the family after post-mortem at the local Civil Hospital.



4 detained for robbery at leader’s factory
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 29
The police is learnt to have identified and detained four persons allegedly involved in the November 25 robbery and shootout at the factory of a BJP leader, Sanjeev Mehra, in the Industrial Area-I.

According to sources, the four accused were involved in several other incidents of robbery especially those in which traders and draft agents were the victims.

Police sources said that with their identification, several daylight snatching incidents would be solved.

Most of the incidents had occurred on or near Gill road.



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