L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

‘Peti Mafia’ Menace
Goods being taken by train illegally seized
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 3
That the "peti mafia", involved in massive tax evasion by transportation and booking of goods through the Railway parcel service is prevalent, was evident when 28 outward-bound packages of hosiery items and readymade garments, valued at approximately Rs 6 lakh, were seized in a pre-dawn swoop by officials of the enforcement wing of the Excise and Taxation Department at the Railway parcel office here on Wednesday.

The packages were brought to the railway station around 3 am by a contractor (read operative of peti mafia) for booking in leased wagons to destinations like Mumbai and Delhi when these were intercepted by a team of enforcement officials.

Even as the excise and taxation officials were in the process of seizure of goods, which were allegedly meant for transportation to outstations without proper invoices, thereby evading due taxes on the goods, the operatives of peti mafia, who were present in significant numbers at the parcel office, offered stiff resistance against shifting of the seized packages.

Personnel of the Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) also sided with the peti mafia operatives and objected to the shifting of seized goods by excise and taxation officials.

Joint director (investigation) T.L. Jindal, who had to rush to the spot in response to an SOS sent by the enforcement team, saved the situation after arguing with the GRP and RPF staff following which the seized goods were sealed and stored on the GRP premises.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune on telephone, Jindal said although there was little doubt about the seized goods being sent to different parts of the country without payment of tax, the department would release the goods as and when the consignors produced proper invoices or documents. Else, the goods would be given back to their respective owners on payment of due tax and penalty under the rules.

Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune reveal that the packages seized by the department in this particular raid did not represent even a fraction of the volume of goods which were successfully dispatched to outstations by the peti mafia every day without payment of taxes.

Sources in the railway goods booking network revealed that the entire process of transportation of goods to the parcel office, booking in railway wagons and actual loading thereafter, worked like a well-oiled machine, with each component playing its part. The peti mafia operators, for obvious reasons, keep the railway officials, as also the GRP and RPF staff in "good humour".

On their part, the railway employees and police, deployed at railway station collude with the mafia, helping them get away with tax evasion to the tune of crores of rupees all though the year, the sources added. 



Invites go sleek 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 3
Gone are the days when a simple rectangular piece of paper with details of marriage was sent in plain white envelope. Those who wanted the card to be a little different had the invitation wrapped in a golden thread.

However, over the past few decades, invitation cards have became more colourful and unique.

Rich people get invitation cards designed on the theme of the party. Money is no problem for them, but the card should be unique like the one in which a glass photo frame embellished with flowers has a wedding invitation on it. Later, one can put a personal photograph in the frame. The envelope that it comes in is three-dimensional and embellished with dry flowers painted gold to match the invitation.

How about cards that can be read in a mirror! A unique concept, indeed. Isn’t it?. This is only a part of the invitation for one function, and invitations for other function are bound together in a booklet form.

Rajan Verma of Verma Packers say that an imported paper with laser treatment gives a leather finish and then invitations are printed. He says, “People have great fancies these days and are particular about the language and concept of the card. Sometimes for sangeet cards, people send cigars and boxes with bangles. These days embroidered cards are also popular. Sleek long cards have invitations folded inside.”

A Khanna-based company, Big Bytes, claims that it has unique concepts in cards. They use brass sheets and emboss invitations on it. Cards are embellished with stones.

Even birthday cards are becoming very interesting. An executive of the company says, “Since people have one or two kids these days, they want to celebrate in style. So birthday cards have varied concepts. Some people go in for a Rs 7 card while others do not hesitate spending Rs 200 hundred and even more.”



Farm growth is VC’s priority
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana May 3
The newly appointed vice-chancellor of the Punjab Agricultural University today spelt out his agenda and vision for the coming years. "We should work with a common goal to help Punjab farmers," Dr Kang said in his maiden address to the faculty and staff in a packed auditorium of the university.

"In order to achieve our goal, we must have a strategic action in teaching, research and extension. We must analyse our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT Analysis). This analysis is a must to develop a strategic plan for the future," he said.

He asked every department to prepare a blueprint of what they planned to do in the next three or five years.

Dr Kang observed that strategic planning was required to accomplish both mission and vision. "My vision for the PAU would be to take this university among the rank of top 10 agricultural universities of the world in the next five years. For this, commitment as well as personal excellence of all is needed," he said.

"Let us join hands together to make PAU an excellent institution of learning and to serve the interests of Punjab agriculture", he said.

Dr Kang's speech, with a tinge of American accent, punctuated with wise sayings and quotes kept the audience spellbound.

Recalling the agricultural progress of the state, Dr Kang said Punjab, known as the granary of India, had been a leader in food production in India and the PAU had played a major role during the past 50 years. Though our accomplishments have been substantial in the past, we must not sit on our laurels and slip into complacency. Our agricultural growth rate is indicative of it.

"Success is a journey, not a destination. We must continue to improve to meet the challenges of feeding and clothing the ever-increasing population," he remarked.

Dr Kang said the current Punjab agriculturalist was reeling through a difficult period as agricultural growth had decelerated during the past decade. Shrinking farm size and farmers' increasing indebtedness are areas of concern.

"We must work to achieve an agricultural growth rate of at least 5 per cent. Only then would Punjab agriculture be on a sound footing. Growth of agriculture sector and betterment of the farming should be our target," he said.

Highlighting the future thrust areas, he said research would be reprioritised towards biotechnology, genetic engineering, organic farming, bio-fuels, precision agriculture, developing eco-friendly and cost effective technologies for biocontrol of pest and diseases, technologies for enhancing water use efficiency etc.

Opportunities for global partnership in research and export of farm products would also be explored.



Company making stickers booked
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, May 3
The police has booked a sticker-making company and its distributer for the printing and sale of distorted images of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in the form of stickers, SP (detective), Khanna, Sushil Kumar told mediapersons today.

A case under sections 153, 153 A, 500 and 504 of the Indian Penal Code was registered.

The action was taken by the police after receiving a formal complaint from president of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta. He had lodged a complaint with Machhiwara police station on April 27.

No arrest was made in this connection so far, SHO, Machhiwara, Sarbjit Singh said.

Meanwhile, appreciating the police action against the sticker-making company, Manvir Singh Benipal, senior vice-president of the District Youth Congress, Ludhiana, has demanded a public apology from the company.



Question paper shocks students
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 3
First-year MA students got a rude shock when they received their sociology paper.

According to practice, the first question was supposed to have 15 short questions to be answered in 25 to 30 words. However, in the question paper that the students got today, the first question had only 10 short questions and they had to attempt all of these.

Angry students said Panjab University should not have changed the pattern without informing students. They have asked the authorities to look into the matter.



Kanwaljit promises land for media colonies
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 3
The cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, has announced that land would be provided on a priority basis to the cooperative societies of journalists by Housefed for the setting up of media colonies in the state.
Cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh addresses mediapersons on the occasion of International Press Freedom Day in Ludhiana
Cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh addresses mediapersons on the occasion of International Press Freedom Day in Ludhiana on Thursday. Photo: Inderjit Verma

He was addressing a function organised by Punjab Union of Journalists to observe International Press Freedom Day at Punjabi Bhavan, here, today.

The minister said the press had to play an important role in strengthening the democratic system in the country and highlighting the basic problems of the poor people in the remote areas by giving proper coverage in the media.

He said the media of the country, even during trying circumstances like imposition of emergency in the country, had risen to the occasion and strongly opposed the restriction imposed on it by the government and fought a successful struggle to reinstate the democracy in the country.

Captain Singh said with the fast induction of latest technology in the functioning of the print and electronic media, each and every event was being highlighted without any delay properly. He said that now a high level of confidence of the people had been built in the media and they had much expectations from it in finding out the solutions of their problems, i.e. poor health and education facilities and unemployment, poverty etc.

The minister said the SAD had always opposed the dictatorial decisions of the governments of the time taken to harm the institutions of democracy and media being the fourth pillar of the democracy had always given proper coverage to the agitations launched by SAD and other like-minded parties in the past.

He said it was the duty of the media to give free and impartial coverage to all events as the people had faith in the media. He assured that the state government would fulfil all promises made with the media in the election manifesto, after discussion with their representatives at the earliest.

The minister said the government was fully aware of the problems of the media and about the circumstances under which they work and would provide all kind of assistance and cooperation to the media men in performing their responsibilities.

He asked the media men to carry out the constructive coverage and to give proper place to the development and welfare programmes of the government, so that the public could make maximum use of it. He announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the PUJ.

Capt Singh also honored around 12 journalists for excellent performance of their responsibilities as members of the union.

Delivering the keynote address, Sidhu Damdami, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, stressed upon the need to improve the professional skills of the media men, so that they could perform their duties of giving factual coverage to the events.

He said that today while celebrating the International Freedom of Press Day, we should rededicate ourselves for our commitments to the people and the institutions of democracy. He also called upon the journalists to also perform their moral and human responsibilities, while covering such incidents, where the human lives and modesty of the women were on stake.

Boards for traders on anvil

Later, addressing a function of the Beopar Mandal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the governmen was committed to redress all genuine problems of the indusrty and trade to give a further boost the economy of the state. He assured that three new boards relating to big industry, small industry and trade were being constituted in the state shortly and these would be headed by the leading industrialists and traders with the rank of cabinet ministers.

The cooperation minister said to check the shifting of industries from Punjab to neighboring states, government had demanded a special package from the Union Government for trade and industry in the state to off-set the huge disadvantages caused by a similar package being given to its neighboring states.

Referring to the power problem in the state, Singh said the past Congress government had not given any attention on this side and claimed that his government would accord top priority to enhance the power generation and three new thermal plants would be commissioned in the state and the generating capacity of Shahpur Kandi would also be enhanced. 



Decision flayed
Our Correspondent

Amloh, May 3
Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, MLA, has termed the decision of the SAD-BJP government in the state to withdraw the grants issued by the former Congress government for development works and to other institutions of the Amloh constituency unfortunate.

He said in case the government failed to withdraw the anti-people order and release the withheld grants forthwith, the matter would be taken up in the Vidhan Sabha and people would have no alternative, except to launch an agitation against it. 



He needs financial help for kidney transplant
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, May 3
A 36-year-old city resident, Sanjay Matto, suffering from severe chronic renal failure, can have a kidney transplant and lead a normal life only if kind-hearted people of the region, NGOs or other voluntary organisations come to his rescue with financial assistance.

Initially admitted to Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) here in February this year, the patient was examined by Dr Basant Pawar, professor and head in the department of nephrology, when he was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. Since then, he was put on hemodialysis twice a week to sustain life.

According to doctors at the CMCH, the patient could have a kidney transplant which would entail an expenditure of near about Rs 5 lakh. A suitable donor for kidney transplant was sought and Sanjay's sister volunteered to donate one of her kidneys.

However, the financial condition of the family, with its sole breadwinner being Sanjay, is not such that it can afford the kidney transplant surgery and the follow-up management to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ.

The CMCH management has made an appeal to Good Samaritans to come forward and donate wholeheartedly to save the life of this person to save him from a life-threatening condition and his family from ruination.

All those who wish to contribute towards the treatment of Sanjay can get in touch with the medical superintendent of the CMCH. All donations be made in favour of Christian Medical College and Hospital with “Treatment for Sanjay” written on the back of the cheque, DD or on the covering letter.



Stress laid on patriotism among youth 
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, May 3
“To strengthen democracy and create deeper value for freedom, patriotic feelings among the students have to be strengthened,” said Rakesh Pandey at a function to celebrate ‘Desh Sewa Diwas’ organised by the Shaheed Memorial Sewa Society here today.

He said it was necessary to make the youth patriotic to keep them away from drugs. He insisted that the coming generations would be freed from drugs, if they understood the struggle of freedom fighters.

Nirmal Sidhu, popular singer and writer, said his forthcoming cassettes would be directed towards patriotism and narrate the ills of drug addiction.

Dewan Jagdish Chander, freedom fighter, said a long battle had been fought for freedom by many people. But some unsocial elements were tempting and enticing children into bad habits and thus trying to break the nation. He appealed to the citizens to live in harmony with one another in order to maintain unity of the nation.

Secretary-general Vajinder Singh welcomed the guests.

As many as 600 students of various schools were honoured today as they had cleared an examination based on patriotism and nationalism. 



Traffic stranded for 1 hour

Today the crossing at Sherpura Road was closed at 8.45 am as the goods train was shunting. The process consumed one hour and in the mean time hundreds of vehicles were stranded on both sides of the crossing, putting them to great inconvenience.

The alternative better route has been closed for the past five months as an overbridge is under construction.

The stranded vehicle owners blamed the Railway authorities, for making them suffer like this.



School burgled

Some unknown persons allegedly burgled Sanmanti Vimal Jain Public School, Kothe Khajuran, last night.

According to Ramesh Bansal, president of the school, some persons broke the shutter of the generator room of the school and stole two exide batteries, a charger, radiator, alternator and denmo worth Rs 20,000.

The thieves at the time of burglary first removed grips of the electric supply in the generator room and thereafter decamped with the stolen articles.

The manager of the school has informed the city police station in writing. But the police has not so far registered the case.

One booked for gambling

Satpal Singh of Dashmesh Nagar, Jagraon, has been arrested by the police from the area of Agwar Gujjran.

The police has seized Rs 335 and number slips from Satpal. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered against him.



Philips enters water purification market
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 3
Royal Philips Electronics has announced its foray into the water purification market. Philips Electronics India Limited, a subsidiary of the Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics endorsed this announcement by launching the Philips Intelligent Water Purifier.

Announcing the launch, K. Ramachandran, CEO India subcontinent, said the new product would not only ensure the consumer gets absolutely safe water but also takes away the tedium in this chore.

Highlighting the potential present in the domestic water purification market, company officials said, "The water purifier appliance market is estimated around Rs 450 crore and is growing at approximately 14 per cent. At present, penetration in India is merely 2.5 per cent, providing a significant potential for future market growth. Realising this opportunity we decided to enter this market by offering a product which is an innovation in this category."

The company would undertake 'experiential marketing' to market this product whereby experience centres would be set up in high traffic areas wherein the consumer can see, touch, feel and experience the new product. The demonstrator will inform the consumer about the nearest retail purchase point for the purifier.

According to the company, the product has certifications by globally and locally renowned agencies like Gold Seal Class A certified by Water Quality Association (WQA), USA , KIWA Water Research (The Netherlands), and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).

The purifier would be available in four models across the country in the price range of Rs 8500 to Rs 12,500. 



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