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Photographer, 2 others get life term for murder
Legal Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 2
The court of Additional Sessions Judge A.K. Mehta has sentenced a photographer, Raghbir Singh (29), his younger brother Gurjit Singh (26) and cousin Ajit Pal (26), all hailing from Raikot, to rigorous life imprisonment in a murder case.

The court rejected the self-defence plea taken by the prime accused.

A fine of Rs 4,500 was also imposed on each of the accused.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Mehta held that the prosecution had successfully proved that the accused killed Bahadur Singh of Raikot by inflicting injuries with kirpans in April, 2001. So, the accused did not deserve any leniency.

The accused were booked under Sections 452, 302, 307, 326 and 34 of the IPC at the Raikot police station on April 18, 2001, following a complaint by Gurpreet Singh of Raikot.

The complainant had stated to the police that he was with his uncle, Bahadur Singh, talking at their house, while his brother, Harpreet Singh, and another uncle, Ranjit Singh, were taking meal on the evening of April 17, 2001.

The prime accused, Raghbir Singh, alias Buta, and some of his accomplices armed with a kirpans reached the house and challenged the family for stopping him from teasing their daughter.

Raghbir then dealt a blow to the head of Bahadur Singh with the weapon with intention to kill.

The other accused also attacked the victim with weapons. The accused fled the scene after the attack, the complainant added.

Badly injured Bahadur Singh was taken to the nearest hospital, from where he was referred to the Ludhiana Civil Hospital.

But he succumbed to the injuries on reaching the hospital.

Raghbir Singh, however, refuted the claims and contended that no such incident had taken place at the house of Gurpreet Singh.

He contended that the complainant’s sister had a love affair with him. Instead, he claimed, the complainant along with others had gone to his house and attacked him.

As he tried to flee, the complainant and his associates chased him down and thrashed him.

He claimed that his brother and cousin, co-accused in the case, were not present at the scene.

He alleged that his brother and cousin had been booked so that they could not pursue his case.

The co-accused also took the same plea but failed to convince the court.

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More IT surveys: Jewellers surrender Rs 1.90 crore
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 2
The Income Tax Department here today launched simultaneous surveys on four more business houses to unearth concealed income and evasion of tax, as five firms of jewellers surrendered an amount of Rs 1.90 crore to be added to their returned income during the current year after the surveys conducted on these jewellery shops concluded late last night.

A team of IT officials commenced survey on the business premises of Garg Fasteners in Sherpur. Elsewhere in the city, IT sleuths started surveys at Hi-Fli Hosiery and S.K. Sanjeev Hosiery, both in Sunder Nagar locality, while another team descended for survey on Adinath Dyeing.

The IT officials were in the process of scrutinising books of accounts, records pertaining to sale and purchase, stocks of raw material and finished goods and computer data of other financial transactions till the filing of this report. The owners and directors of the firms and their key employees were also queried by the officials.

Meanwhile, it was learnt from sources that the five firms of jewellers, where surveys were conducted on Thursday by the IT Department, had surrendered an undeclared income of Rs 1.90 crore and agreed to meet the additional tax liability. The firms targeted by the IT officials for surveys yesterday included Dhir Diamonds, Dhir Di Hatti, Anmol Jewelers, Paris Jewelers and Heritage Jewelers, all located in Fountain Chowk in Civil Lines area.

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IT help centre

Ludhiana, March 2
The Income Tax Department here has set up a help centre to guide the tax payers. According to additional commissioner of income tax (administration) J.R. Kajla, the help centre, set up in the office of United Cycle and Parts Manufacturers Association on Gill Road will remain functional on all working days from 2 pm to 6 pm till March 31. — OC

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War Museum: Whistle-blower victimised?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
The caretaker of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Museum, whose contract was terminated midway over alleged non-performance by the management committee, was allegedly victimised for blowing whistle against financial irregularities, wasteful expenditure and proposed demolition of an erected structure at the museum.

Lieut-Col B.S. Kular (retd) was shown the door even though the museum generated far more revenue from the visits of tourists during his tenure as caretaker-cum-member secretary.

The revenue from tourist tickets had gone up to Rs 1,33,880 in the last six months of 2006, against the earnings of a mere Rs 77,370 in the previous year.

Giving details to the media for the first time after suffering alleged harassment for being a whistle-blower, Lieut-Col Kular said he had suffered enormous pressure and harassment for objecting to certain practices and was forced to resign.

Apart from his assertion, documentary evidence provided by Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) president Col Chanan Singh Dhillon (retd), about the minutes of certain meetings revealed how Lieut-Col Kular had raised his head against suspicious practices.

Colonel Dhillon said it was primarily due to Lieut-Col Kular’s insistence on verification of bills, comparing the costs with other companies, objection to the demolition of constructed galleries, especially recently-built Sikh Light Infantry, that attracted the anger of authorities.

Moreover, many senior officials went on foreign tours on the pretext of looking for ideas for the museum.

Lieut-Col Kular had pointed out that certain books and magazines that had been bought by senior officials were available at cheaper rates.

However, he was directed to clear the bills even though books shown in the purchase list were not received. He held fort till he got the books and only then did he clear the bills.

Interestingly, minutes of a recent meeting stated that senior officials had bought certain paintings from an artist at the behest of the Punjab Government on the plea that the artist needed financial help.

Colonel Dhillon said soldiers and former soldiers had immense sentimental value attached to the galleries that were proposed, albeit in a clandestine manner, to be demolished to make way for new galleries.

Lieut-Col Kular had objected to the demolition of the recently-built structures, costing Rs 65 lakh. He contended that vacant galleries on the first floor or basement be used.

The allegations have already been denied by the Sainik Welfare Board.

However, documentary evidence in the form of meetings and undue delay for over a year in the awarding of the contract for modernisation of the museum suggested otherwise. The record sealed yesterday would be opened shortly for verification of the allegations.

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Cong show better in rural areas
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 2
The Congress has performed well in rural areas of this district by capturing five seats of the vidhan sabha.

The Shiromani Akali Dal had won four seats in 2002 out of 12 seats in the district. Now all the four urban seats have gone to the BJP and SAD.

In the rural areas, Kila Raipur vidhan sabha segment made history as the Congress won this seat for the first time since 1967 when this segment was carved out. The Akali Dal had been dominating the segment except in 1992 when CPM candidate Tarsem Jodhan won. Justice Gurnam Singh was elected from Kila Raipur for the first time in 1967 and he was the first Chief Minister of the non-Congress government in Punjab. Later Giani Arjan Singh Litt won this seat as an Akali Dal nominee for five times. Even Parkash Singh Badal was returned from this seat in 1997 when he had contested from Lambi as well. He later resigned from Kila Raipur and Jagdish Singh Garcha of the Akali Dal won the byelection. Jagdish Singh Garcha again won in 2002 from Kila Raipur defeating the mother of Jasbir Singh Khangoora, alias Jassi Khangoora, of the Congress who has won this time. Jassi Khangoora and his father, Jagpal Singh Khangoora, had vowed to wrest this seat from Garcha to avenge the defeat of Mrs Khangoora in 2002. During the past five years, the Khangooras worked hard to win over the voters of Kila Raipur and the Garchas remained under the impression that they could not be defeated. Resentment against the Garchas had started brewing during the past few years and they started ignoring the constituency.

Jassi Khangoora, who studied in the UK and was doing business with his father there, gave up the British citizenship to contest the elections. The Khangooras belong to Latala village which falls in Kila Raipur segment. A large number of NRIs descended on this constituency to help Jassi Khangoora and they supported him through and through with money as well.

Khanna (reserve) segment has witnessed the fall of the biggest gun of the Congress. Shamsher Singh Dullo, president, PPCC, has been humbled by a light weight nominee, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa, of SAD who wanted to contest the elections from Dakha. Luck favoured him as the Congress chief of Punjab had earned the wrath of the residents of Khanna town and neighbouring areas. Khanna has the biggest grain market of Asia and an overwhelming majority of the arhtias were opposed to Dullo. Dullo during his tenure as Excise and Taxation Minister in the Beant Singh government had annoyed a large section of the population.

As a matter of fact, residents of Khanna were waiting for Dullo to join the election fray and avenge the alleged excesses committed by him as a minister in the 

Beant Singh government. Small farmers of Nasrali were harassed and serious attempts were made to grab their small holdings to the tune of about 200 acres. Nearly 100 small farmers were put behind bars in a bid to take the land. This reporter had taken up the cudgels to expose the high-handedness of Dullo and the intervention of the Supreme Court was sought to help small land tillers of Nasrali village. Justice Kuldip Singh, then a judge of the Supreme Court, had ordered the district magistrate of Ludhiana to hold an enquiry and the farmers were restored possession of their land.

There were many such instances of excesses of Dullo and Khanna town was also divided into two groups-pro Dullo and anti-Dullo factions. In 2002 Mrs Dullo had won the seat on the Congress ticket and this time again she was an aspirant for the Congress ticket but she had to bow out of the race because of her husband. She had been seeking vote for Dullo as the next Chief Minister of Punjab. The appointment of Dullo as president of the PPCC to woo the Dalits also proved futile as the results from Doraha region show.

Bikramjit Singh Khalsa won because he got full support of the Tohra loyalists of the area. The late Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra had a strong base and Khalsa won because he got full support of the Tohra loyalists of this area.

Against this, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, another Tohra loyalist, who was put up from Payal constituency, against his wishes was not so lucky as he was defeated due to the presence of a rebel, Jagjiwanpal Singh. Maheshinder Singh was elected from Ludhiana West in 1997 and was inducted as a full cabinet minister. Maheshinder Singh Grewal wanted to contest from Ludhiana West this time but he was denied the ticket and he was assured that he would get full support in the Payal segment. But he did not get the support of the Akali leaders of the area and was opposed by them. As a matter of fact, no serious effort was made to make the rebel candidate withdraw from the contest because of vested interests. Sukhbir Singh Badal did campaign for Maheshinder Singh Grewal for a day but no other senior leader visited the constituency during the campaigning. The leg pulling of Maheshinder Singh Grewal led to the victory of Tej Parkash Singh, Congress candidate and son of the late Beant Singh. Tej Parkash Singh was earlier elected from Payal in 2002 and was inducted minister in the Amarinder Singh government but was later dropped following differences with Amarinder Singh.

The Congress succeeded in wresting Jagraon seat from Akali Dal nominee Bhag Singh Mallah. Gurdip Singh Bhaini, a Congress nominee, had been earlier elected from this seat on an Akali ticket in 1985. But he later joined the Congress. Bhaini faced a lot of opposition from the Congress of Jagraon led by Gurcharan Singh Galib, former MP, who wanted the ticket for himself. Gurcharan Singh Galib has a strong base in the Jagraon belt but despite that Gurdip Singh Bhaini won. Amrik Singh Aliwal wanted the Akali ticket from this seat and he was denied the same with the result that he resigned and joined the anti-Badal factions of the splinter groups. Aliwal also worked against Bhag Singh Mallah.

Iqbal Inder Singh Atwal, son of Charanjit Singh Atwal, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha, was defeated from Kum Kalan (reserve) by the Congress nominee, Ishar Singh Meharban, general secretary of the Punjab Congress. Meharban was elected from this seat in 1992 and was inducted as a minister in the Beant Singh government. Resenment against Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal had started brewing due to his utterances and behaviour with the electorate of the area. Inder Iqbal Singh also thought himself to be invincible and has never behaved as a humble person as his father does.

Darshan Singh Shivalik of the Akali Dal succeeded in ousting Malkiat Singh Dakha who had been returned to the vidhan sabha twice from Dakha (reserve) segment. Dakha was at one time PA to the late Chief Minister Beant Singh and was close to Shamsher Singh Dullo. He also failed to look after the area well and Darshan Singh Shivalik, despite his defeat in 2002, continued to nurse the constituency. He is a ptoege of Sukhbir Singh Badal and to accommodate Shivalik, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa was pushed to Khanna.

At Raikot, as in 1997, Harmohinder Singh Pardhan won on the Congress ticket defeating Ranjit Singh Talwandi. In 2002, Ranjit Singh Talwandi avenged his defeat and this time again the situation has been reversed. The defeat of Ranjit Singh Talwandi is a setback to his father, Jagdev Singh Talwandi.

Amrik Singh Dhillon of the Congress has lost to Jagjiwan Singh Khirnia of the Akali Dal. Dullo had defeated the father of the Akali candidate twice from the Samrala segment.

Since Bikramjit Singh Khalsa has defeated a big gun, Shamsher Singh Dullo, a question being asked by the Ludhianvis is whether he would be inducted in the Punjab cabinet by Parkash Singh Badal.

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Recruitment drive by Dell
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 2
A campus recruitment drive by Dell at the Ludhiana College of Engineering and Technology (LCET), Katani Kalan, was organised for the final year students of all branches of B.Tech.

The selection process included eight rounds for the final placement of executives, which included presentation about Dell, company profile, general interaction, communication skills testing, written aptitude test and final interview at the Dell office.

About 70 students from five institutes BBSBEC, Fatehgarh Sahib, PCET, Lalru Mandi, LLRIET, Moga, RIET, Phagwara, and LCET, Ludhiana, participated in the drive.

One of the students from the LCET, Priyankja Singla, successfully went through all rounds and seven others are required to go through the selection process after the completion of their degree. The final interview will be conducted at Dell office, Mohali.

LCET principal J.S. Sohal thanked the team for conducting the selection process on the college campus and their valuable suggestions for the improvement of the skills needed to find better job prospects in the industry.

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Lone cabinet berth for Gabria from city
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
Probably for the first time in the recent past, Ludhiana district has been poorly represented in the state cabinet with veteran Akali leader Hira Singh Gabria being the only minister from here. With two strong probables and former ministers Jagdish Singh Garcha and Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal losing from Kila Raipur and Payal, respectively, the choice fell on the senior Akali leader and a staunch Tohra loyalist.

It is a well deserved honour for Gabria, who has always maintained a clean and unblemished image. He has never compromised on principles and has stood by his leader. Gabria happens to be a mass leader commanding a lot of influence among the people of the area. His appointment as minister was widely expected as he is the seniormost Akali legislator in the district.

Gabria is also the Ludhiana (urban) district president of SAD. It is also worthwhile to mention that SAD remained a united house, unlike in the past, during his tenure as district president. It was duly reflected in the electoral results in which the Akali-BJP alliance swept all the urban and semi-urban seats.

Gabria was elected from Ludhiana Rural for the second time. Earlier he represented the constituency between 1997-2002. He has lost to Malkiat Singh Birmi in 2002. However, at that time he represented the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal led by former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Tohra at that time had parted ways with Badal.

This time he defeated Birmi by a huge margin of about 48,000 votes, the highest margin of victory in Punjab in these elections.

Although Satpal Gosain, a senior BJP leader and former Deputy Speaker, who won from Ludhiana East for the third time, was also expected to become a minister, his name did not appear in the final list. Nor did that of Harish Rai Dhanda, a former chairman of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Council and the SAD MLA from Ludhiana West. 

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  Budget anti-employee, says INTUC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
Terming the union budget as "anti-employee" the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) said nothing much had been done to check inflation.

Mr Balwant Rai Kapoor, president, Punjab, said: "Income tax exemption limit should have been raised to at least Rs 1.5 lakh. The finance minister has betrayed the working class by not enhancing this limit and not changing income tax slabs. No relief has been provided to the common man as rates of pulses, sugar and other essential commodities too would remain unchanged."

Mr Kapoor also said that the budget had failed to come up to the expectations of the common man. Mr Inderjit Singh Pardhan of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) urged the finance minister to review budget provisions keeping inflation in mind. "The exemption limit of excise duty for the small scale sector should be raised to Rs 2 crore and even individual income tax exemption limit should be raised to Rs 1.5 lakh," CICU said while also demanding that tax on fringe benefits and service tax on registered associations should be abolished.

Expressing disappointment, the Auto Parts Manufacturers’ Association said the union budget had failed to pass any benefit to the small scale industry. Mr GS Kahlon, president of the association, said the growth and development of small scale industry in the state was not given any consideration in the budget. Excise exemption limit was raised from Rs 1 crore to Rs 1.5 crore which would do no good. It should have been raised to at least Rs 2 crore, he said.

The association also said that the budget would also not benefit exports in the country. Condemning the increase of Rs 10,000 in exemption limit for individuals, women and senior citizens, the association termed it as a "mockery" and said that the raise should have been more.

Mr KS Budhiraja, senior vice-president, Punjab Submersible Pump Dealers’ Association, said special focus on agriculture was a welcome measure. "These announcements would benefit industries engaged in manufacturing harvesting combine machines, wrapper machines, submersible pumps and monoblock pump sets. The state in particular stands to benefit on this account," he said, adding, "we urge the finance minister to increase the income tax exemption limit for senior citizens to at least Rs 1.95 lakh."

He also urged the FM to give at least Rs 1,300 montly pension to senior citizens.

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Office-bearers

Mandi Ahmedgarh, March 2
The following have been elected office-bearers of the local Bhagwan Balmiki Mandir Committee: Ashok Kumar - president; Chaman Lal - vice-president; Bharat Bhushan - cashier; and Hussan Lal - secretary. Naurata Ram Begra, Raj Kumar, Sham Lal, Balram Bains, Ramesh Kumar, Ajai Kumar and Baljinder Singh have been elected members of the executive committee of the organisation. — OC

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Industrialists rue rise in steel prices
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
Rise in steel prices has created a hue and cry in the local industry. Within a day, rate of HR coils has increased by Rs 1,000 and touched a high of Rs 32,300 per tonne. The brunt of it is being borne by steel consumers, including engineering and cycle industry.

"It is shocking that despite major concessions in the union and railway budgets, steel producers have raised prices of steel," said P.D. Sharma, president, Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

While HR coil recorded a rise of Rs 500 per tonne in the last month, a total of 30 per cent rise in a year, prices of rounds also shot up from Rs 24,500 a couple of months ago to Rs 27,500 per tonne.

"Freight on iron ore in the railway budget was reduced by 6 per cent. In the union budget, the custom duty on cooking coal was reduced to zero. Prices should have declined but unfortunately steel makers have raised the price," added Sharma.

Industrialists said the rise in steel prices would have a bearing on inflation also as iron and steel have a share of 3.64 in the wholesale price index. They said the government should not allow steel producers to "arbitrarily" raise the prices as not only do they directly hit industry they have an adverse impact on common man as well on account of inflationary factors.

The local industry also condemned the method of fixing steel prices by producers. They said these rates were currently being fixed on import parity basis every month by adding ocean freight of $ 60 per tonne and 5 per cent custom duty to the spot FOB export prices.

Industrialists also said exports could suffer due to high rate of raw material and low productivity of labour. Under such circumstances, rise in steel rates would further cripple steel-consuming industry, they pointed out.

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Exhibition of products for women
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
The Woman 2007, an exhibition of products for women, will be inaugurated on March 9 here. The three-day exhibition, would involve participation of dress designers, jewellery designers, home furnishers and other industries, said Mr Maninder Sethi, director, Excelsior Public Relations, the organisers for the event.

"It will showcase trendy products not only from within the country but from across the globe, all under one roof. Besides, a large number of women entrepreneurs would also gather and get a platform to interact."

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Bank takes possession of defaulter’s property
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 2
Officials of the State Bank of India’s Stressed Assets Resolution Centre, zonal office, took physical possession of property mortgaged in the account of M/s Anil Oswal Knit Fashion in Sunder Nagar here yesterday.

According to bank officials, the possession was taken under provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, as the party failed to repay bank dues to the tune of Rs 5.33 lakh.

In spite of being served a notice, the borrower failed to come forward for settlement.

Officials said the borrower had availed of a CC (hypothecation) facility from the Brahampuri branch of the bank and later defaulted in repayment.

Even after issuance of a 60-day demand notice on December 28, 2004, the borrower failed to come forward. Following which, the bank decided to take physical possession of the property mortgaged in their account.

The premises was locked and sealed by bank officials yesterday.

The procedure was carried out with the assistance of M/s GATS Financial Reconstructors Limited.

The authorised officer warned other defaulters of stringent action against them if they failed to repay their debt.

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