L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Emigration scam: Main accused held
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
A team of the Division No. 6 police station and activists of the Anti-Foreign Placement Fraud Society have finally succeeded in nabbing one of the main accused in the Rs 3-crore emigration scam, who had absconded last year with three others after defrauding 134 city residents on the pretext of settling them in the UK.

Rafique Ahmed was brought here from Mumbai this evening on a transit remand. SHO Jaswinder Singh Mangat said the accused would be presented in a local court tomorrow.

Two of the four notorious deceivers, who had disappeared in July last year after defrauding so many persons, were nabbed from Rajasthan in April this year.

The accused, Kishore Kumar and Jagmohan Lal, were living a lavish life in Jaipur and Khairtal town (Alwar district) of Rajasthan while the victims and their families were either repaying loans or were making rounds of police stations seeking their arrest.

Similarly, Rafique Ahmed was also enjoying his life in Mumbai. He was finally traced down by society activists. The accused ran an emigration company, Euro International Group, near Samrala Chowk. It had closed office overnight after taking over Rs 2 lakh each from the 134 victims.

The Anti-Foreign Placement Fraud Society was formed by the victims to trace the accused on their own and the change of guard at the Division No. 6 police station helped largely in the arrest of the accused.

The police and the victims are on the lookout for the remaining accused, Raj Kumar. All four were the main office-bearers of the Euro International Group.

Mr Vijay Kumar, spokesperson for the Anti- Foreign Placement Fraud Society, said the group had offered assured emigration to the UK in advertisements issued in vernacular papers last year.

The company officials took Rs 1.70 to Rs 2 lakh from each of the 134 applicants and gave them fictitious work permit issued by the Home Office, London. They then told the applicants to dish out Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 more and submit passports for finalising the emigration process.

However, the company officials disappeared in July last year. Many victims and their relatives assembled at the office but found only some women staff members who were not paid their salary. Later, the victims learnt the company officials and the staff had not paid the rent and instalment of the office furniture too.

The victims were then reduced to make rounds of police stations and senior officials but not much was done after the registration of a case.



4 hurt in freak firing incident
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Four persons, including a minor girl, were injured when the barrel of a gun exploded while a member of a marriage party was firing into the air from a .315-bore gun as part of the celebrations just outside Malhotra Resorts near Jalandhar Bypass Chowk this afternoon.

All injured were reported to be out of danger. They suffered pellet injuries in the incident. The gun holder, Joginder Singh, suffered more injuries. The other injured were Ashok Kumar, Balbir Singh and the minor girl, whose identity the police was withholding on the family's request.

The incident took place despite the District Magistrate's ban on carrying weapons to marriage parties and marriage palaces. Sources said Joginder Singh was a relative of the groom. They belonged to Phillaur. He took out the gun and fired into the air several times, celebrating the occasion in a dangerous way.

The sources said the barrel of the gun burst while he was firing. The splinters hit those standing close to him. The celebrations turned into cries of pain and anxiety. The marriage party was resumed once the injured were sent to hospital.

Police sources said a case was being registered against Joginder Singh. The police was not taking any action against the marriage palace claiming it could be held responsible only if weapons were carried inside its premises.

Mr Narinder Kumar, owner of the palace, said the incident occurred outside his premises. He said he had posted guards at the entrance gate, specially to prevent carrying of arms inside.



SIFT charged with service tax evasion
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The Sportking Institute of Fashion Technology (SIFT) is facing charges of evasion of service tax of an estimated amount of Rs 20 lakh and officials of Central Excise are in the process of raising a demand of due service tax, along with penalty and interest from the due date of the payment of tax.

That one of the premier institutions of fashion technology in the mega city was evading payment of service tax under provisions of Commercial Training and Coaching Act right from its inception in August 2005 and it had not even got itself registered as a service provider, came to light during a raid conducted by the preventive wing of the Central Excise Department at the SIFT premises in Ghumar Mandi here yesterday.

Thorough inspection of the fee collection record, admission details and other relevant computer data, as also books of accounts by officials of the preventive wing of the department revealed that the institute had collected a total fee of nearly Rs 1.75 crore in the past over one year and owed around Rs 20 lakh as service tax a the rate of 12.24 per cent.

The officials disclosed that the total service tax liability of the institute was being assessed on the basis of available record of admission and collection of fee and recovery proceedings for due service tax, penalty and interest thereon, were in the process of being initiated.



Bridge on Sidhwan Canal to be opened today
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Around two years after the bridge on the Sidhwan Canal near Gill Road had collapsed, the construction of the new bridge is finally complete and it will be opened to public by the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, here tomorrow.

The residents will have a sigh of relief as they have been sick of traffic jams in the area. Completed at the cost of Rs 92 lakh provided by the District Planning Board, the bridge was to be completed after 35 days from the inauguration. But it got delayed and finally the construction work was started on October 30.

Mr Rajinder Singh Bajwa, councillor of the area, said the work was done on a war footing so that the time already lost should be covered and inconvenience to the public be stopped.

‘‘We had been supervising the work ourselves so that there is no further delay. In all circumstances, the work was to be finished by December.’’ said Mr Bajwa.

The construction of the Gill bridge was the long-pending demand of the residents of the adjoining areas. It had collapsed more than a year and a half. Though there was a parallel bridge but it was not sufficient in catering to the traffic needs of the area. Many protests were organised to demand a new bridge as many accidents took place in its absence and many families lost their members at this spot.

The commuters on the road had been crying hoarse for quite some time now as traffic chaos was the order of the day on the existing bridge. During office hours serpentine queues were witnessed on the road and it used to take hours to get the traffic cleared.

Though the residents had been crying foul, the bridge remained embroiled in a controversy with the Municipal Corporation authorities claiming that it was the PWD and the latter pointing finger towards the former for shouldering the responsibility of its reconstruction.

At the same time, both were reiterating that there was already a new bridge existing just adjacent to the old bridge so there was no problem for the commuters.

But later, fund were provided by the District Planning and Development Board as the Chairman of the board, Mr Lal Singh, had conceded to the pending demands of the residents.

‘‘Finally, there is some respite for us as the bridge has been completed. It is due to the ensuing elections in the state that we have finally got the bridge. Otherwise the project would have been delayed all the more. You can well imagine that a bridge was inaugurated on June 21 but work could only be started in October,” said Mr Sumit Sood, a resident of the area.



Permanent Lok Adalat starts functioning
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, December 27
After waiting for about five months, the permanent Lok Adalat established under the Legal Services Authority Act has virtually started functioning.

Earlier, a retired Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr C D Gupta, was appointed as Chairman of the Permanent Lok Adalat at Ludhiana. But without the appointment of two members, the Chairman was helpless in deciding the cases.

A retired Chief Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity, Mr Rajinder Singh Khokhar and Mr Nand Lal, retired Legal Adviser, Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation have now been appointed members of the adalat. They assumed the charge of office yesterday. Their appointment was made by the Executive Chairman of the Legal Services Authority Punjab, Mr Justice S S Nijjar.

Sources, in the judiciary disclosed that their names were recommended for appointment as members long ago. But due to certain reasons, the file was held up in the secretariat.

Due to the non-appointment of the members, the permanent Lok Adalat was getting a lukewarm response, as the litigants were aware that no case could be decided by the Chairman alone.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Mr Rajinder Khokar, a newly-appointed member said the scope of the Lok Adalat was very wide. ‘Any dispute arising out the use of public utility services namely-postal, telegraph or telephone services, transport services for the carriage of passengers or goods by air, road or water, insurance services, services in hospitals or dispensary, supply of water, light to the public by any establishment and system of public conservancy or sanitation could be brought before the permanent lok-adalat for settlement’.

The Lok Adalat would hear the disputes, where the value of the dispute not exceeds Rs 10 lakh.

He further apprised that any party to a dispute might, before the dispute is brought before any court, make an application to the Lok Adalat for the settlement of the dispute.

Once the matter was seized of by this Lok Adalat no party could approach any court. If the parties fail to settle the disputes amicably even with the intervention of the Lok Adalat, then the matter would be decided on merit.

The decision pronounced by the Permanent Lok Adalat would be final in all respects.

No one would be able to file any appeal, as held by the Legal Services Authority Act, added Mr Khokhar.



2006 — Flashback
An unhealthy year for city residents
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, December 27
Though not an uncommon phenomenon for the past several years, the city population had to face severe attacks from water-borne diseases like gastroenteritis and jaundice during June and July, and then again from dengue for nearly three months from August to October during 2006 when nine human lives were lost and several hundred persons from different parts of the city were hospitalised.

Once again the total lack of preparedness on the part of the health administration as also the civic body in taking timely preventive steps and providing emergency medical care after the widespread prevalence of dengue were thoroughly exposed as both of them remained clueless to come to terms with the grave situation.

Even as the people were left to fend for themselves from attacks of dengue and gastroenteritis in an epidemic-like situation, the health authorities and the MC administration were locked in a blame game over varied issues like supply of contaminated water, fumigation and anti-mosquito spray in city localities.

The health administration underwent a change of guard twice during the year when Dr Sat Pal Sharma replaced Dr Rajinder Kaur as Civil Surgeon in April, but was asked to make way for Dr Yash Pal Singla barely after five months in September.

The medical fraternity in the city took up a united stand against the new reservation policy of the government for professional colleges and a “medical bandh” was organised in May when all major medical institutions, nursing homes and even private clinics observed strike for several days. The OPDs in all hospitals were closed, and barring emergencies, routine medical services remained disrupted.

The health staff right from PCMS doctors, service providers (doctors and pharmacists) employed by zila parishads, para-medical employees and ministerial staff continued their relentless battle against the government policies of privatisation, exploitation and mass transfers, besides many other demands. The ESIC Model Hospital in the city also witnessed a prolonged agitation against shifting of ESI dispensaries, working hours and service conditions.

On the plus side, during the year, the health authorities carried out some spirited drives against violations of the PNDT Act and quite a few ultrasound scan centres were brought to book for sex determination test as also other irregularities. Raids were conducted on chemists to curb unrestricted sale of intoxicating drugs and samples were taken from dhabas and other food joints to check adulteration at regular intervals. In a bid to deal with the menace of quackery, owner of a nursing home was slapped with criminal charges.

Medical and surgical professionals from several premier medical institutions - Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Christian Medical College and Hospital and SPS Apollo Hospitals continued to make their mark at national and global conferences, received prestigious fellowships and attended training courses in the country and abroad to improve their skills.

In a rare achievement, city-based firm Pentavox Herbals made a presentation of their products at the World Health Assembly in Geneva (Switzerland) during May where the company shared centrestage with some of the giants in the field of ayurveda like Dabur, Baidynath and Zandu.

The local Civil Hospital, which remains in the news mostly for the wrong reasons, also earned a remarkable achievement when one of the orthopaedic surgeons (Dr Gagandeep Singh) carried out a knee replacement surgery, which, the department said, was first to be performed in a government hospital in the state.



Voters’ cards: Admn gears up for next phase
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta yesterday reviewed the progress of the third round of the ongoing campaign to issue electoral photo identity cards at a special meeting of Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) of different constituencies of the district at Bachat Bhavan here today.

Mr Gupta directed the officers to make extensive publicity of the drive involving the representatives of the political parties and panchayats to mobilise the remaining voters who had not turn up for getting them photographed during the next phase from January 1 to 15.

Appreciating the hard work put in by the officers and other staff to enhance the percentage of covered voters under the drive, Mr Gupta said more than 82 per cent of the total voters had been issued the cards and the remaining would be covered shortly.

He said the district topped in the state when with issuing voters’ cards to 20,16,129 voters in 12 constituencies. He said 53 teams had been deputed to photograph the voters in the district. The identity cards had been issued to 16,45,155 voters and the stress was being laid to cover the remaining 3,70,974 voters.

The progress of each constituency was discussed by Mr Gupta and complete information was provided by each officer regarding the voters in their constituency not covered under the drive. The Deputy Commissioner said around 95 per cent voters had been issued the cards in the Kila Raipur constituency followed by 93 per cent in Raikot, 91.83 per cent in Khanna, 90.5 per cent in Payal, 89 per cent in Ludhiana East, 88.51 per cent in Samrala, 87.87 per cent in Koom Kalan, 85.2 per cent in Jagraon and Dakha, 80.6 per cent in Ludhiana North, 73.17 per cent in Ludhiana West and 69 per cent in Ludhiana Rural.

He said the cards would also be issued to the new voters, who had submitted their forms for enrolment after receiving the lists from the higher authorities. From January 3, any eligible person who still had not been included in the voter list could apply through Form No. 6 to the concerned ERO for getting his name registered.

To get the mistakes in the cards rectified, if any, the voter could fill the Form No. 8.

The Administration had launched a drive from September 25 to carry out constituencywise programmes for photographing the voters.

Later, the Deputy Commissioner presided over separate meetings of the EROs and Supervisors of the Ludhiana Rural and Ludhiana West constituencies where the percentage of the voters covered under the drive was still low. He told them to utilise all resources to mobilise the voters.



Vidhan Sabha poll likely in Feb end
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 27
The election schedule for the Punjab Vidhan Sabha is likely to be announced in the middle of the next month and the polling may be held by the end of February.

Mr S Y Qureshi, a member of the Election Commission is visiting Ludhiana on January 3 to assess the law and order situation in Punjab and look into the arrangements for the conduct of the poll. After the visit of Mr Qureshi, the full Election Commission will meet in the middle of next month and announce the programme for the elections. A 45-day notice is required for the conduct of the poll and it seems that the polling will be held only in the end of February. With the announcement of the election schedule, the model code will also come into effect in the state.



Admn not to intervene on fee refund issue
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana December 27
The District Administration has declined to intervene in the issue of refund of admission fee, taken by various school managements while admitting new students. Though a lot of hue and cry is raised by the parents every year over the non-refundable fee issue, the administration maintains that no body forces parents to deposit hefty amounts, they do so to secure a seat for their ward. They want it to be refunded only when their ward gets admission in the school of their own choice.

One of the senior officials with the department, who did not wish to be quoted disclosed that parents deposited money at various schools just to avoid any kind of risk. "They deposit admission fees, which is to the tune of several thousand of rupees, to secure a seat for their ward in a particular school. But when their ward gets admission in the school of their choice, they want the money to be refunded. Why would the school managements bear losses? Parents start raising the issue only when they get better choice", he said.

The official added that in the past, too, the district administration tried to intervene into the matter but some school managements refused to obey the orders. "In such cases, we have to cut a sorry figure. We have no authority to force private managements for anything", said the official.

The Principals of a reputed school here said even if any orders to refund the admission fee were issued, he would not obey. "If we keep on refunding fee like this, who will take admission in our school? We will be left with several vacant seats. Secondly, we have clearly told the parents about the non-refundable admission fee, why do they raise the issue again every year?", he asked.

Meanwhile, many parents feel that in a way the school managements were right on their stand. But they maintained that something should be done to refund certain percentage of admission fee. "The school managements should return atleast half the money. My ward has taken admission in a school whose results were declared on December 20. I have deposited Rs 42,000 admission fee there but if he gets seat in the school where I want him to study, I will have to pay several thousands again. In that case, our hard-earned money would go waste", said a parent.



Capt Rattan Singh cremated
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The mortal remains of Capt. Rattan Singh, a former minister and a freedom fighter belonging to Indian National Army, who died yesterday after a brief illness were cremated with state honours at the Model Town Extension cremation ground here today.

A contingent of the Punjab Police reversed arms and fired two volleys in the air as a remark of respect to the deceased. His elder son, Dr. Joginder Singh, lit the pyre.

Mr. Pryank Bharti, ADC (D) laid wreaths on behalf of Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, and Mr. Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner. Mr. Amar Singh Chahal, SP (H) laid a wreath on behalf of the state police.

A number of leaders of all political parties, government officers, office-bearers of a large number of social, industrial, agricultural, educational, religious organisations were present at the cremation and paid rich tributes to the great freedom fighter.

Others present on the occasion included Mr. Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP, Mr. Gurcharan Singh Galib and Ms. Rajinder Kaur Bulara, both former MPs, Mr. K S Aulakh, Vice- Chancellor, PAU, Mr. K K Bawa, Chairman, Housefed, Mr. Mohinder Singh Gill, a former PPCC chief, Mr. Jagdev Singh Jassowal, former MLA, Raja Narinder Singh, former Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, Diwan Jagdish Chander, a freedom fighter, Mr. Shiv Singh, a former Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr. Gurdev Singh Lapran, Mr. Amarjit Singh Tikka, Mr. Darshan Singh Shiwalik and Mr. Ajmer Singh Bhagpur.



Police remained in the midst of controversies
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
The city police remained at the epicentre of many unsavoury controversies in 2006 which became a major issue for the state government to handle. It was after five years that the state government had to send commandos to help the local police in manning the district.

The year began on an ignominious note when a police team from Jagraon, a neighbouring police district, raided a factory near Sherpur to recover the remains of high-profile businesswoman Reema Jain, allegedly murdered by her brother-in-law Micky Jain and dumped in a pit in his factory.

Though the crime had occurred in the city and the Ludhiana Police was supposed to trace the case, the achievement of the Jagraon police made the local cops cut a sorry figure. It hurt more as the Jagraon police investigation negated the previous claims of the local cops.

Then, it was the Delhi Police which arrested four persons, including two industrialists from Ludhiana, on charges of running an international drug cartel by smuggling narcotics to Canada after storing them in the city. The two industrialists were doing so under the garb of running import-export companies.

The next major issue rocking the city police was the case of “fire girls”. Four girls had shook the cultural ethos of the region by opening fire in the air in the Sarabha Nagar market. The police actually had to run after the girls for several months to catch them.

The police did well to catch an accused duo, including an attractive girl, in the sensational Raghav jeweller murder case and the double murder of a jeweller and his wife. However, it was in for a major embarrassment when after the accused girl's arrest, it learnt that an innocent girl’s pictures were used as the wanted girl on most-wanted posters splashed all over the city. Eventually, the police suspended an ASI for the error.

The most troublesome incident for the cops came in the form of the alleged molestation of woman veterinary doctors who were protesting outside the Punjab Agricultural University demanding government jobs from the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.



Chemists' convention on December 30
Our Correspondent

Doraha, December 27
The Punjab Chemists Association will hold a convention in Patiala on December 30 against the move of the government to allow the entry of multi-national companies into the retail and wholesale medicine chain, which, it said, would hit the pharma trade.

This was stated in a press note by the general secretary of the association, Mr Sandeep Kaushal, who added that all members of the association would assemble to condemn the move.

Mr A.N. Mohan, president, All-India Organisation of Chemists and Druggists, its general secretary, Mr J.S. Shinde, the president of the Punjab Chemists Association, Mr Surjit Mehta, the working president, Mr Tikka Dilip Singh, and the organising secretary, Mr P.K. Das, will speak about the entry of private companies in the retail and wholesale medicine market and their adverse effects.



Help us check crime: DSP
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 27
Mr Kanwaljit Singh Dhillon, DSP, Raikot, has called upon leaders of various social and political organisations to discourage anti-social elements and help the police in providing a clean and peaceful social environment.

He has directed officials of the circle police to discriminate between noble and anti-social elements while interacting with the public.

Talking to the Ludhiana Tribune after convening separate meetings with office-bearers of various social and political organisations of Raikot town and surrounding villages, Mr Dhillon said a clean and peaceful social environment could not be provided without the cooperation of social and political leaders.

"As a majority of the police officials hail from other regions, they cannot differentiate between good and evil without the help of genuine social and political leaders,” said Mr Dhillon.



Cong cell appointments
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 27
Mr Baljit Singh and Mr Parkash Chand have been appointed the chairman and the vice-chairman of the District Urban Development Cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, respectively.



UP Police shielding NRI woman: SHO
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, December 27
Accusing the UP Police of shielding an NRI woman who had been booked for allegedly duping innocent Punjabis in the name of marriages, the local police has appealed to the SSP of Sangrur to impress upon the authorities concerned to get the matter probed by some independent Central agency.

The UP Police has now been accused of facilitating the accused to take illegal possession of certain articles of evidence, including a Scorpio, for which a court had issued seizure warrants.

Mr Darshan Singh, SHO of Sadar, who is investigating an FIR registered against NRI Parwinder Kaur (daughter of Mr Gurdeep Singh Sandhu of Marwah Khurad in Yamunanagar district and mother of two daughters) for allegedly duping Kuldeep Singh of Manakheri village of Rs 12 lakh by marrying him dishonestly and deserting him later, has appealed to Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP of Sangrur, to impress upon the authorities in the Union Government to probe the way in which the Gorakhpur police had tried to shield the accused by handing her over the Scorpio and other documents and later registering a case against her under Sections 406 and 379 of the IPC.

Elaborating the modus operandi of “erring police officials”, Mr Darshan Singh said the Gorakhpur police had seized the Scorpio and other relevant articles of evidence in the case from a hotel where the accused had been operating her gang for a long time.

"The Gorakhpur police, instead of helping us proceed against the accused, went to the extent of misguiding the court regarding its jurisdiction and handed over the seized articles, including the Scorpio (owned by the complainant), to the management of the hotel on the pretext of a pending bill worth Rs 80,000. The manager of the hotel has now reported that the Scorpio is missing and the Gorakhpur police has registered a case against Parwinder Kaur and absolved the manager of responsibility to take care of articles of evidence," reads a letter written by Mr Darshan Singh to the SSP.

Earlier, the Gorakhpur police allegedly in connivance with the accused seized the Scorpio and certain documents which were lying in a room at President Hotel at Gorakhpur on the pretext of recovering Rs 80,000 as pending bill of the hotel after registering an FIR against Parwinder Kaur and her accomplice Viney Kumar on September 8.



Discount sales likely to be unattractive in coming day
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 27
A plethora of discount sales on garments might appear lucrative but these are unlikely to give good bargains in coming days. Hosiery manufacturers, who recorded poor sales in the beginning of the season, say reduced production would have a bearing on retail market as well.

On account of bad season industry slowed down production and a few units even stopped production expecting a bad winter. However, as mercury dipped, sales got a boost and stocks got cleared. "As a result the demand and supply gap this time reduced which would have an affect on the retail segment. Though most retailers would continue with discount offers, as these have become a norm to combating competition, consumers' bargaining power is likely to be reduced significantly," said Mr Vinod K. Thapar, president, Knitwear Club.

Retailers also said that unlike earlier years where atleast 10-20 per cent of their stocks remained unsold, this time they were expecting all stocks to be cleared.

The beginning of the season was relatively weak mainly on account of ceilings in Delhi and prolonged winters. Even till the end of November, hosiery business was slack.

Trade suffered and ceilings in Delhi further aggravated the problem in terms of lesser orders and payments being stuck up. According to industry, business declined to 50 per cent due to which a large number of small manufacturers slowed down and many even stopped production. Demand from other states like UP and Bihar too reduced and industry was not getting repeat orders.

It was only around the beginning of this month that sudden decline in temperature gave a boost to industry. As the chill continues, stocks are getting cleared up an industry is relieved.

The rise in demand this time is the maximum for low-end categories where purchases are need-based, say market observers. Even as the benefit does not immediately accrue to manufacturers, it means a good season for them next year and they are likely to begin a good season.



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