L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


6-yr-old kidnapped, rescued
It was in the family; uncle had sought Rs 5 lakh ransom
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
Jealousy and lure of easy money drove a close relative to kidnap six-year-old son of a Makkar Colony-based well-settled migrant labourer family here. Ranjan was kidnapped yesterday by a relative who later demanded Rs 5 lakh as ransom from the boy’s family.

His plan, however, went awry as the police acted promptly and rescued the boy. The two accused were nabbed by the Delhi Police late last night and the boy was rescued.

The accused uncle, along with an unidentified accomplice, are being brought back to the city by a city police team.

The accused was allegedly jealous of the financial status of the victim's family.

It was a 12-hour long rescue operation in which the Punjab, Haryana and Delhi police worked together to nab the accused. Even though the parents of the missing child had informed the police some 10 hours after the kidnapping took place, the police alerted cops en route Bihar, as the kidnappers were suspected to on way to the state.

SSP R.K Jaiswal said investigation into the kidnapping cases was always more sensitive than that in other crimes as even a minor slip can endanger the life of a victim. In this case, the police of different states worked in perfect co ordination and responded with equal briskness to save the child's life. According to the police the chances of the child being killed were very high in this case as he knew the kidnappers very well.

The accused took the boy away from his school at about 9 am yesterday on some pretext. He then took him to Ambala. He made the ransom call in the evening only and left for Delhi.

Bandeshwar Prasad, the boy's father, informed the police last evening about the kidnapping of his son. They said they learnt it at 3 pm only when Ranjan's brothers returned from the same school without him. It was only by 5 pm that they learnt from a teacher that two persons, whom Ranjan recognised, had taken him away.

While a team led by SP City-II Harish Kumar reached Ambala and interrogated the PCO owner from whose booth the call had been made, Delhi Police looked for the accused in each train reaching there.

It was from one such train that the accused were nabbed. The Delhi Police had also registered an FIR in this regard.

Bandeshwar Prasad told the police that he had made two houses worth over Rs 20 lakh in the colony after years of hard labour and his relative seemed to be jealous of this.


Road repair: Preferential for some, patchy for others 
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
Some people are more equal than others for the local Municipal Corporation if discrimination in repairing roads is any indication.

While the local body is giving a “patchy treatment” to the Pakhowal road that is the major road of the city, another road connecting the hospital of a kin of a local Akali leader to the Malhar Road was re-carpeted within a few hours yesterday.

The patch work on the Pakhowal road was started in the morning today as it had developed potholes and the condition was worsening day by day. Some local BJP leaders had even threatened to go on a protest if the MC did not start the work.

However, the recarpeting work was not started and only the potholes were being repaired as a temporary arrangement. Senior functionaries of the MC said the local body was caught between the election codes. Earlier the work was delayed because of the Assembly elections and now the municipal elections were round the corner.

The officials also said to recarpet the Pakhowal road was a major project and there was no time left to call the tenders now. They said it would take at least more than a month to complete all formalities and if the election code came into effect, the work would be delayed anyway. So the entire practice would be started afresh after the elections were over.

On the other hand, the road to the hospital was re-carpeted in one go. The work was stopped just near the hospital and the rest of the road was still the old one. The workers on the spot said they were not asked by their contractor to recarpet all the roads of Gurdev Nagar and they had finished the stretch they were told to.

Residents of the area raised a voice against the alleged discriminatory attitude of the MC. They said if the road was to be recarpeted at least the entire stretch should have been done afresh.

“They should have given the same treatment to the Pakhowal road also. If this patch cold be done, why not the major road also where hundreds of commuters suffer everyday”, said a resident of Gurdev Nagar.

Municipal commissioner Vikas Partap said it was not in his knowledge that the hospital road was recarpeted. He said he would inquire about the matter. For the Pakhowal road, he said it was a temporary arrangement and the road would be recarpeted after the elections. 



Power Woes
Residents doubtful but PSEB hopeful of better supply
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
Come summers and power begins playing truant. The situation is not much different this time. However, unlike earlier, this time the industry and Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials are hopeful of an improvement in the situation.

“No doubt unscheduled cuts are being imposed. The government is quite hopeful and at least this time industry’s problems too have been heard. The government’s statements have indicated that it is taking the power problem seriously. However, only time would tell if scenario on the power front actually betters or not,” said regional chairman of the Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) S.C. Ralhan.

Residents, however, are not so happy. “Unscheduled cuts are being imposed for long hours. Even for load shedding the supply withdrawal has become more frequent and it is quite troublesome as these cuts stretch to even as long as eight hours at times,” said Kamal Sharma, a Civil Lines resident.

City residents said despite promises by the government they would prefer to wait and see the outcome. “Even the previous government made tall promises. We cannot feel happy unless there is an actual improvement in the situation. As of now, cuts have already started and I only hope the situation does not worsen in days to come,” said Savita Malhotra, another resident.

Undeclared cuts are being imposed on the industry too. However, industrialists said the situation so far had not worsened. “The duration till now is normally one-two hours, which has been almost a routine,” said Ralhan.

For a change, the electricity board officials also said there were chances of better power supply. “The situation is likely to improve this time,” said K.D. Chaudhary, chief engineer, central zone, PSEB, adding, “But people should use electricity judiciously. 



Dhanda, Khalsa get their due, finally
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana April 17
After having been virtually sidelined during the allocation of Cabinet berths, the Ludhiana district seems to have been compensated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with the appointment of two Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPS), Harish Rai Dhanda from Ludhiana West and Bikramjit Singh Khalsa from Khanna. Both had strong claims and credentials for the different reasons.

Dhanda happens to be an outstanding lawyer and a legal luminary. Besides, he had defeated Congress veteran Harnam Dass Johar by a huge margin and that too in a constituency that was considered traditionally to be a Congress stronghold.

Moreover, he is a brilliant orator and an articulate spokesman, who can always and certainly does, defend the government and the party effectively when it comes to arguments. He is one of the very few Hindu candidates within the SAD who won the election and that too with an impressive margin. He is also a familiar face in Ludhiana having served as the president of the Ludhiana Bar Association several times. He has also headed the Punjab and Chandigarh Bar Council.

He told The Tribune that he was happy to get the responsibility and serving people while watching the interest of the party and the government would always remain his priority. He said, he would try his best to come up to the expectations of the people.

On the other hand, Bikramjit Singh Khalsa also had equally strong claim. Besides being a second time legislator, he had defeated the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, Shamsher Singh Dullo on home turf, Khanna. Khalsa had moved from Dakha to Khanna, while Dullo belonged to Khanna itself. It was certainly not an easy task to oust Dullos (since the constituency was represented by his wife in the previous house) from this segment.

In fact Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, during his recent visit to Bhaini Sahib had a special word of appreciation for Khalsa for defeating a Congress heavyweight against all odds.

Talking to The Tribune, Khalsa said, he was grateful to Badal for appointing him as the Chief Parliamentary Secretary. Of the seven legislators that the SAD-BJP alliance has in Ludhiana district, four have now been accommodated in different positions. Earlier, Hira Singh Gabria, from Ludhiana Rural was appointed minister for tourism, culture and jails while Satpal Gosain from Ludhiana East was appointed the Deputy Speaker.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is himself in charge of the Ludhiana district. He has been frequently visiting the district giving a hope to the people that happy days were certainly ahead, while at the same time keeping the administration on its toes.



Widows of terror victims threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
Dissatisfied over the existing policies of the state government, widows of those killed by terrorists today threatened to resort to agitation if they were not granted the relief amount of Rs 4 lakh each, at the earliest.

Speaking at a sangat darshan programme today, the widows alleged that the government was biased in disbursing financial assistance to them. Citing the difference, they said the monetary help being given to the Sikh danga victims had been increased in the recent past whereas they had been given no increment on the pension, which was just Rs 2,500 per month.

Paramjit Kaur, who had lost her husband in a terrorist attack in 1990 at Pratap Chowk, said the pension amount being given to them was meagre. “It is difficult to survive in such inflationary conditions when the prices are skyrocketing.

The grant of Rs 1 lakh each, which the government had released earlier, was also given to us in instalments,” she said.

President of the district unit of a body of these widows, Mukhtiar Kaur, said they had got last increment in 1997.

Prior to that they were getting a sum of Rs 1,500 per month. “It has been a decade now and some of us are in our twilight years and suffering from ailments. We want the pension to be increased to at least Rs 5,000. We had sent our representation to the state as well as the central government but nothing has been done till now”, she said.

They further alleged that they were often harassed by the officials while receiving pension. “When they have issued us the Red-Cards, which are proof of our being terrorist-hit widows, we are also asked to bring things like the ration card, the residence proof, the telephone bills etc. We are humiliated at times”, alleged Raj, another widow.

There are about 25,000 terrorist-hit families in Punjab and more than 3,000 such families live in Ludhiana district.



24 complaints redressed at sangat darshan
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 17
The first district-level sangat darshan programme, to hear complaints of people in the presence of government department heads took place at Bachat Bhawan, here, today.

As many as 24 complaints related to different departments were presented by the complainants. After some discussion, deputy commissioner, Sumer Singh Gurjar, asked the officers concerned for redressal as per the rules and also to submit the action taken report in the next programme.

The DC asked the officers to give top priority to the complaints so that people could be provided with justice. He said as per the directions of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, the programme would be conducted every Tuesday at the Bachat Bhawan.

Referring to the system to redress the complaints, he informed, the complaints would be discussed in the presence of the officers at the time of submission and efforts would be made to settle the complaints on the spot, and the unresolved cases would be cleared within a period of one week.

He appealed to the people, to prefer bringing their complaints instead of presenting on other working days, so that these could be redressed without any delay, as all officers would be present there.

Disposing of some complaints regarding the issue of Red-Cards to the terrorist victim families, the DC told the complainants that after 2001, as per the policy of the government, no new Red-Card was issued and in case, there was any such programme, they would be informed accordingly.

On a complaint regarding the fraudulent sale of urban property of an NRI, the DC asked the SDM ( East) to collect the concerned record and supply it to ADC (D), who would inquire into the matter and report in the next programme.

Reacting to the complaint regarding the stagnating sullage in an open drain, he asked the SE, MC, to get the open drain cleaned at the earliest.

On a complaint submitted by a widow belonging to Jagraon Tehsil regarding grabbing of her agriculture land and house by her brother-in-law, after the death of her husband six years ago, Gurjar asked the SDM to direct the revenue staff to give her possession of her share, the mutation of which had already been executed in her name.

An aged person submitted a complaint against his son, who had forced him out from his own house in the Jawahar Nagar area, Gurjar asked the SP to settle the matter at the earliest and provide justice.

Gram Panchayats of Bhaini Shaib and Penjeta villages demanded suitable compensation for their wheat crop which had been burnt. On this, the DC, directed the PSEB authorities, Kohara, to expedite the case so that the victim farmers could get suitable compensation. On a number of complaints regarding the pending mutations of agriculture land, plots, the DC asked the Revenue Department, to execute the mutations and submit in the next sangat darshan programme.

The DC said action would be initiated against the erring officers who were absent, and who would remain absent from the programmes in future.



Study circle holds blood donation camp
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 17
The Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle organised a blood donation camp, a medical check up camp and a tree plantation drive at Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College (GNEC) here today. A seminar on the topic of “science on living” was also held on the occasion.

Dr Harjinder Singh, director, Ludhiana Mediciti Hospital, and Dr R.T. Patil, director, CIPHET, under the ICAR, New Delhi, shared their views on keeping good health and conservation of environment.

Distinguished guests, including Pritpal Singh, president, gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Dukhniwaran Sahib, Dr Charan Kamal Singh, chief secretary of the Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Harkeerat Kaur, principal, GNEC, and Dr Harjinder Singh planted saplings to commemorate the golden jubilee of the college.

Prominent among others present at the function were Harbans Singh, joint director, Public Relations, Dr Pushpinder Singh, director of Multimedia Production and Dramatics, and Gursharan Singh, joint director in the directorate of Information Technology.



Biography of VRTC founder released
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 17
Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, MP, released the biography of Dr E.M. Johnson, founder director, Vocational Rehabilitation Training Centre for Blind (VRTC), at the centre’s auditorium here today. Harish Rai Dhanda, chief parliament secretary, presided over the function.

Dhillon inaugurated an exhibition put up students of various departments of the VRTC.

Sara Johnson, executive director of the VRTC, explained the different aspects of rehabilitation and the activities of the organisation. C.S. Ravindran has authored the book. He completed his rehabilitation counsellor’s course from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.



Protest against TV channel 
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
Activists of the Bharatiya Valmiki Dharm Samaj today took out a procession against a private television news channel for allegedly showing ‘disrespect’ to Mahirishi Valmiki.

The procession led by the samaj leaders, including Laxman Dravid and Vijay Dhanav, shouted slogans against the television channel.

They also sought an apology from it. They sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in the matter.

The television channel had allegedly compared a former dacoit with Mahirishi Valmiki, which the samaj said, was highly condemnable and reprehensible. 



‘RBI policy killing SME business’
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 17
The Apex Chamber of Commerce and Industry today said that the small and medium sector enterprises were in doldrums and their business had been adversely affected. Giving reasons for this president of the chamber P.D Sharma said, “The cost of raw material is rising, working capital requirement is increasing. On the other hand there is liquidity crunch in the market and the banking sector. This is mainly due to the wrong monetary policy of RBI to control inflation.”

He said monitoring interest rates is not an effective tool to curb inflation in developing countries as barely 50 per cent of population in these nations holds bank accounts.

“Moreover, the cost of money is also going up heavily for SME sector due to the same reason. Interest rates have risen by more than three per cent in the past 15 months. Some weaker public sector banks charge still higher interest rates and thus the borrowers are further handicapped,” he added.

The chamber said RBI has put no restrictions on external commercial borrowing. Large companies have access to international market for borrowing and they are able to borrow capital at cheaper rates than those in India. During the period April to December 2006 Indian companies had borrowed $12.5 billion from the international market.

Quoting a UNIDO study, Sharma added that SME sector of India accounted for 35 per cent of exports directly and 15 per cent indirectly in the year 2003. The performance has improved further. Even within the country banks lend money to large companies at soft rates. As a result SME sector cannot compete with them, the chamber said.

“RBI should allow banks to raise external commercial borrowings exclusively for small and medium sector. At present some banks have this facility but only for selected borrowers in the SME sector. The facility of soft interest should be extended to all businesses in the small and medium sector.”



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