L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Railway parcel office raided
Tax evasion detected; 77 packages seized
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, September 9
In a late night raid at the railway parcel office here yesterday, officials of the excise and taxation, along with the police, seized 77 outward-bound packages of hosiery goods and readymade garments that did not have valid documents.

Kanwaljit Singh, joint director of the mobile wing, and Sukhchain Singh, SP (City-I), questioned the railway booking staff to know whether the packages had been booked or not. The officials also inspected some of the documents furnished by the handling agents to ascertain if invoices of the outward-bound goods had been issued and tax paid.

The operation, which lasted for more than three hours, was part of the drive against the “peti mafia” known to book goods without proper documents in connivance with railway officials and GRP personnel deployed at the railway station.

The officials said the members of the mafia mostly operated during night when it brought packages in delivery vans and dumped them around the parcel office.

The packages were then booked in a hush-hush manner. The evasion of tax ran into several crores during the peak season, they said. The seized packages were taken to the headquarters where the inventory of the goods would be taken and the extent of tax evasion processed.

According to the assistant excise and taxation commissioner, D.K. Verma, the packages contained hosiery garments and their estimated value was around Rs 20 lakh.



Strange Priorities
Funds for electric trees, none for parks
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

An electric tree near the Damoria bridge in Ludhiana.
An electric tree near the Damoria bridge in Ludhiana.
— Photo I.V.

Ludhiana, September 9
Even as park management committees (PMCs) have been fighting in vain for a maintenance cost of Re 1 per sq metre for parks, the municipal corporation does not mind spending thousands on installing electric trees in different parks.

Several parks in the city are in a bad state for want of funds. The MC has in the past faced criticism by the park committees on the issue. The MC has spent thousands on electric trees which have no environmental value.

Moreover, these function only for some time, in the absence of proper maintenance, and then stand as mere scrap in the middle of the parks. Only a few that are functional light up the parks at night.

Sources in the MC told The Tribune that earlier the MC had bought these trees for Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 per tree. Later the prices were slashed and the trees were bought between Rs 30,000-Rs 35,000. Due to the weather conditions in the region, the trees made of plastic and fibre can’t be maintained properly.

‘‘These ill-maintained trees are in bad shape. In fact , theses stand out as eyesores. If these have been installed after spending so much, the MC should have taken good care of these, ’’ said S.S. Chana, president of federation of PMCs.

He said the federation took up the matter with MC commissioner Vikas Partap at a recent meeting and he had agreed that the MC would not buy more such trees.

‘‘When we ask the civic body for money to manage the parks, we are told that the MC does not have funds. Why are they wasting public money on these trees then? The money should be utilised on some other job that promotes environment.’’ Chana argued.

Out of the 737 parks being maintained by the MC, most are in a shambles.

In the past, as many as 128 PMCs had entered into an agreement with the MC to maintain 467 parks after a formal agreement at the rate of Re 1 per sq metre.

Later during the Congress regime, they were told that they would be paid 50 per cent of gardener's pay subject to a limit of Rs 1,000. Since the terms were not acceptable, most PMCs abandoned the parks. Of course, the councillors then found a new way of spending public money-electric trees.



We aren't tax evaders, say hosiery units
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
The Knitwear Club has viewed with concern the tendency of government functionaries as well as top brass of the excise and taxation department of accusing the business community of indulging in tax evasion.

In a meeting of the body held under presidentship of Vinod Thapar here today, the hosiery manufacturers lamented that despite a lion’s share of value added tax (VAT), paid by the organised sector, an accusing finger was always pointed at this section which caused a lot of humiliation and harassment. “The fact remains that recently the vigilance bureau has exposed the scam worth crore of rupees at the hands of government official. Even this detection may only be a tip of the iceberg and the malady lies much deeper.”

Others who spoke at the meeting were Bhushan Maini, Narinder Miglani, Jaswant Takkar and Charanjiv Singh. They further alleged that tax evasion worth lakhs of rupees was committed in connivance with the department concerned which allowed the “peti mafia” to indulge in illegal activity.

The hosiery owners rued that goods supplied to chain stores at ex-factory price, having MRP tags, were also being detained at various barriers and traders as well as manufacturers were being harassed by the excise and taxation officials on the pretext that invoices of such goods were under-valued. “Such high-handed tactics of the department are causing exodus of the entrepreneurs. The earlier the confidence building measures are taken the better,” they stressed.



4 drug smugglers arrested
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 9
The Ludhiana (Rural) police has claimed to have arrested four members of two interstate gangs from Dudhel and Leelan Megh Singh villages and seized 100 bags of poppy husk and 1.5 kg opium from their possession. Value of the banned products in the international market is estimated to be Rs 40 lakh.

According to the SSP Ludhiana (Rural), Gurbhej Singh, alias Bheja of Nagoke (Amritsar) and Paramjit Singh of Kamaske under the Lopoke police station were arrested during a naka over the Drain bridge near Leelan Megh Singh yesterday. However, the kingpin of the gang identified as Bagga Singh of Philaur town, who was escorting the truck (HR-55-7757) carrying the poppy husk bags, managed to escape in his car.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Gurbhej and Paramjit, who were related to each other, had been working on behest of Bagga Singh. While Gurbhegh was to receive Rs 1 lakh for bringing the consignment from Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh) to Philaur in Jalandhar district, Paramjit had been assured Rs 5,000 for the job. It was their third trip. Recently, they had managed to successfully take similar consignment to its destination. The poppy husk was bought at Rs 16,000 per bag (40 kg) and was expected to fetch Rs 40,000 per bag.

Another team of the narcotic cell nabbed Sukhwinder Singh, alias Bobby of Patti Lehna, Pakhowal and Iqbal Singh of Pohir village and seized 1.5 kg opium and a motorcycle from their possession. Investigations revealed that the duo had smuggled 1 kg opium from the Dabwali area in Haryana and had increased its quantity by mixing Bourinvita.



Fancy mobile numbers catch nobody’s fancy
Vimal Sumbly

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
Cellular companies have not got a good response for the auction of “fancy numbers”. After Hutch claimed to have auctioned one such number for Rs 15 lakh, other companies tried to jump into the ring and make easy money.

The BSNL and Spice Telecom also announced the auctioning of various fancy numbers. However, none of the two companies have managed a good response from bidders.

Both companies had announced the auction recently. Spice announced the auction for a single digit number with the reserve price of Rs 1 lakh while the BSNL announced the scheme with relatively less reserve price.

But the companies have not got a significant response. Sources in the two companies revealed that the response was far too less than expected. Although the reserve price of the BSNL was reasonable, that of Spice for a particular number was described as too high.

People seem to have become wiser, an official of one of the companies said. Earlier the fancy numbers were allotted without any money. One only needed a recommendation or reference, he said.

Once the companies realised that they could sell these numbers, they started auctioning these. Everybody likes a fancy number but not everyone is prepared to pay a hefty sum for special numbers.



7 nabbed for flesh trade
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 9
The Khanna police last evening nabbed seven persons, including four women, from an alleged brothel being run in the Gurteg Bahadur Nagar area.

According to Gautam Cheema, SSP Khanna, a police party nabbed Rita Rani (owner of the house), Swaran Kaur, Kuldeep Kaur, Jagjit Kaur, Manvir Singh, Pawan Deep Singh and Sarabjit Singh for allegedly indulging in immoral trafficking.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Rita Rani and Swaran Kaur had reportedly been exploiting innocent girls and poor women. The accused, however, denied the charges levelled against them and said they had collected for a social gathering.

“Timely information provided by the residents and prompt action taken by SP (D) Gurmit Singh and DSP Gursharan Singh resulted in the arrest of the accused,” Cheema said.



Ludhiana Calling!

The city is adorned with posters and banners eulogising Sukhbir Singh Badal as the prospective heir to the CM’s throne. All these posters were sponsored by a municipal councillor who aimed to become the mayor of the city. But alas! the effort went in vain. The young councillor lost to a seasoned old ally of the senior Badal. Better luck next time!

Learning traffic rules

With the introduction of one-way traffic on some routes especially in the busy and congested Ghumar Mandi market, the residents are slowly learning to follow these traffic rules. It was quite common for the residents to oppose any such order as witnessed in the past. But this time, it seems they too understand that some law has to prevail on the roads. Residents can help the matter more by following lane driving on their own.

Corner meeting

There seemed to be no red faces among SAD leaders present in the house when Gyaspura was elected mayor. All strong contenders including K.L. Chhabra, Pal Singh Grewal and Simarjit Singh Bains had pretty content expression on their faces. Everybody guarded their feelings very well but Bains, Gurdip Singh Neetu and chief parliamentary secretary Harish Rai Dhanda sneaked in a moment in a corner to discuss the nitty-gritty revolving around the event.

Railway pool

Puddles of stagnant water in the railway station premises are an open invitation to fleas, mosquitoes and germs to breed. While railway station officials have put up boards urging the commuters to keep the station clean, they themselves don’t seem to follow it. (see picture)

Private bus operators

Private bus operators harass commuters to the limit. They mislead them about the exact station where the bus would stop as they want them to board the bus. It is a very common complaint against private bus operators who would ask them to de-board the bus at Sherpur Chowk instead of dropping them at the bus stand. This angers the commuters who fail to understand what action to take against them.


Many women councillors in the House took offence to newly elected mayor addressing women as “jnaanis.” After taking his seat as mayor, he was quite spontaneous when the name of deputy mayor was being proposed. He had said, “Hun kise jnaani da naam propose karo, (Now propose the name of a woman).”


When the oath-taking ceremony of councillors was organised, almost all councillors raised their hands when those who wanted to take oath in Punjabi were invited. Seeing that there was nobody who chose the national language, Congress councillor, Gurpreet Gogi, stataed he would take oath in Hindi. BJP councillor Sakshi followed suit. Both took their oath in Hindi. Anil Malhotra, another Congress councillor, was the only one to have chosen the phirangi language.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev and Jupinderjit Singh



Seminar on Bhagat Singh in Pak
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 9
Dyal Singh Majithia Research and Cultural Forum, Lahore, has reckoned that policy makers and leaders in east Punjab had failed to aware masses about the contributions of martyrs and Sikh gurus in fetching freedom and preserving cultural heritage in the state.

Bebe Nanaki and Shaheed Bhagat Singh would have been role model for girls and boys respectively had it been so, claimed the forum authorities during a seminar organised at Lahore recently.

The revelations were made by members of a delegation that had returned from Lahore after attending a seminar on occasion of the birth centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

“The claim seems to be true, as like many other Punjabi youth I came to know from Dr Zafar Cheema, director of the forum, that surname of Shaheed Bhagat Singh was ‘Sandhu’. After attending the seminar, I am of the opinion that intellectuals and authors settled in western Punjab had done more than their counterparts in our state," said Purba while talking to the Tribune.

However the awareness of Bhagat Singh was confined to writers and readers in Pakistan. “Though we were grateful to Pak authorities to allow us visit Layalpur Banga, native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, it pained us that the residents of the village knew little about the martyr,” she added.

“Almost all of us were moved when a middle aged Pakistani farmer stood up immediately after presidential address by Dr Khalid Mehmood, governor, and claimed that he was the cultivator of the land belonging to martyr's clan. He urged the governor that buildings and places connected with the memory of the martyr should be preserved,” said Purba.

Sukhdev Singh Dharmkot, another delegate, said the organisation was established in a piece of land donated by late Dyal Singh Majithia, the founder of the Tribune. But he like many other delegates was pained to observe that not even a single constituent of the leading newspaper was seen there.

He was impressed that impact of Sikhism was significant in that area.

The delegates were happy that certain representatives of Pakistan government had declared that they would try to improve the image of martyrs at international level.

The delegation, led by Gurdev Singh Batalavi and Sarabjit Singh Patiala, besides interacting with the constituents of the forum, visited places concerned with the life of the martyr and some of them even brought soil from the land belonging to his clan.



On mission honesty
Vimal Sumbly

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
Honesty in public service does make a difference. People coming to the sub-registrar, Ludhiana West, can feel it for themselves. Since Mukesh Kumar took over as the sub-registrar for this area, nobody has to spend a single penny for getting the sale deeds of their land or house executed. People who used to come for the execution of the sale deeds earlier said, they had never expected that the sub-registrar's office would work without making people pay extra.

Mukesh Kumar was specially picked up for this job by the government after a proven record of being honest through out his career. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal honoured him for the honesty and integrity and announced that he would be elevated to the Punjab Civil Services (PCS). He was also presented a state award by the Chief Minister on Independence Day.

Mukesh Kumar expressed his gratitude to the staff, which has also been cooperating in his "mission honesty". When asked as to how felt in a system where being honest was not an easy proposition, he remarked, "The change starts from individual effort". Moreover he said, there are good and honest people and they only needed to be identified and encouraged.

Sitting in his offices in the Mini Secretariat and Transport Nagar, he ensures to confirm from each and every person who comes to get his registry signed if he or she had to pay other than the stamp duty and registration fee and without any exception he hears "no". Now the word seems to have travelled too far and people who come for the registration of their sale deeds refuse to pay any extra money to anyone confidently. The two posts of sub-registrars of Ludhiana East and West are most sought after in Punjab for the obvious reason of earning extra money. No wonder some people put a price to the post as well.

With Mukesh Kumar there for quite some time now, people expect similar officers at other places as well. Earlier it sounded impracticable that the registrar's office could be purged off the corruption. But now it is a reality.

Chief parliamentary secretary, Harish Rai Dhanda, who is too vocal against the corruption and at times never feels shy to admit that corruption prevailed in the government offices, remarked, "We have made a beginning with Ludhiana West, we will take it to logical conclusion". Dhanda was instrumental in getting Mukesh Kumar posted here.



70-yr-old man fights for justice
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
A 70-year-old man, who retired as a gazetted officer from a Central government department, has complained that a portion of his six shops in Urban Vihar was allegedly demolished by some persons but the police was not taking any action against them.

In a complaint, P.N. Bhatti said that he had been living in his house for the past 12 years. At the start of the year, he was approached by two brothers, who had purchased a plot next to him.

“They started quarrelling with me that a small part of the land, on which I had constructed my house and shops belonged to them. Although I showed them all records and told them that I was given the demarcation by the seller, they said that a four-feet area would have to be demolished. I told them that I would discuss the matter with my family and let them know the solution.” said Bhatti.

He claimed that he had to go to Muktsar for three-four days in May to look after his ailing brother. “I was informed from here that a side of the six shops was demolished. When the women of my house tried to stop them, they were told to keep shut and threatened of dire consequences if they protested.”

When Bhatti returned from Muktsar, he went to meet the SSP but no case was registered. “Finally, I was compelled to take help from some respectable people of my area, who came to see the spot and called those brothers also. It was unanimously decided that they would rebuild the damaged portion and pay Rs 29,000 extra to me. But they did not do anything except small repairs,” he added.



Mayor's post: Loyalty put before youth
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
Experience and loyalty was preferred over youth in selecting Hakim Singh Gyaspura as mayor. The will of CM Parkash Singh Badal proved stronger than his son and SAD acting president, Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Sukhbir is learnt to have supported Simarjit Singh Bains, president of the Youth Akali Dal, for the post.

Two days ago, he had categorically stated that a well educated and healthy leader would be the mayor. By stating so he had cut out the names of Gyaspura, who is not even a matriculate, and K.L. Chhabra, who has not been keeping good health for some time.

Gyaspura was “rewarded” because of his loyalty to the SAD and his closeness to Parkash Singh Badal. Though Bains left no stone unturned to get the post in the recent past, the fact that he had joined SAD (Amritsar) and later shifted his loyalties to the SAD tilted the balance against him.

Besides spending lakhs of rupees on putting up huge posters and banners in the city, Bains had made many Independents join the SAD in a recent function chaired by Sukhbir Badal. And Sukhbir had in the past sent a message across that he was all for young leaders.

Jail minister Hira Singh Gabria, who had supported Gyaspura, had his way. While the entire party top brass in the city was favouring Bains, he got his candidate chosen as the mayor.



Eye donation awareness week
Our Correspondent

Khamano, September 9
Blindness Control Society, Fatehgarh Sahib, organised its 22nd eye donation awareness week. This camp was organised at Government Senior Secondary School, Khamano, under the National Programme of Prevention of Blindness.

Dr S.M.S. Sidhu, chief medical officer, Fatehgarh Sahib, said that the main objective of their camps was to make people aware to donate their eyes after death. He appealed to the students to play a key role in eye donation.

A slogan-writing competition of school students was also held. The students also held an awareness rally in the city. Dr Naresh Chander, Dr Jaswant Singh, school staff and students were present at this occasion.

Science exhibition

A tehsil-level science exhibition was held at Government Senior Secondary School, Kila Naudh Singh, near here in which students of government and non-government schools took part. Chief parliamentary secretary Bikram Singh Khalsa was chief guest.

According to Khalsa, the Punjab government is taking special steps to improve the level of rural education so that students can compete with urban students. He said some schools will be selected under the new scheme. He assured the villagers that their demands about the school will be fulfilled shortly.

A quiz contest was also held. CEC Charanjit Kaur, DEO(S), Fatehgarh Sahib, Vijay Kaushal, principal Netar Singh, sarpanch Harkeet Singh Bhari were present on the occasion.

Rally organised

A march and rally on scooters and motorcycles was organised at Khamano by power men owing alliance to Technical Selo Union (TSU). They were demanding immediate reinstatement of the six leaders of TSU who were suspended by the XEN and transferred to distant places.

Prem Singh, sub-division secretary of the union, said that 70 workers took part in the march and demanded registration of criminal case against the XEN for threatening the union leaders.

Sikander Singh, president of the Ropar circle, warned that if the suspended employees were not reinstated immediately, they will stage a dharna at Samrala. The rally was addressed among others by Mahesh Kumar, Amrik Singh, Ranjit Singh, Sangat Singh and Bharpur Singh.



Ludhiana Roundup
Seminar on role of coops
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
A seminar on the topic “Role of Cooperative in Agriculture Development” was organised by IFFCO. Dr Joginder Singh Brar of PAU read a paper on the occasion. Joint general manager of IFFCO told in detail the facilities given to the farmers by various organisations. Darshan Singh Shivalik MLA, Manpreet Singh Ayali also attended the meeting.

Meeting held

The general body of Hambaran Kheti Bari Government Society held a meeting here yesterday. The society distributed a profit of Rs 61,23 lakh to the members of the society. The chief guest, Jagdeep Singh Nakai, chief parliament secretary appreciated the work of society members.

CD released

A CD titled ‘Veikh Tohr Dollaran Di’ by upcoming singer Rajinder Grewal was released here today by Jasdev Singh Jassowal, chairman, Punjabi Sabhyacharak Manch, and by K.K. Bawa, chairman of House Fed, under the aegis of Vishav Punjabi Sabhyacharak Manch.

Campaign ends

A 15-day campaign to protect trees organised by Guru Kirpa Sewa Mission Charitable Trust concluded here today. Arun Atri of the Trust said that to protect trees many school children were asked to tie rakhis to the trees and take good care of them.



Rotary Club organises seminar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
Rotary Club organised a seminar on “Financial Solutions” in association with Axis Bank Ltd. (formerly UTI Bank), Miller Ganj Branch, and UTI Asset Management Co. (P) Ltd. at Rotary Club, Ludhiana, here o Friday. Rotary Club president B.D. Sharma and secretary I.S. Grewal had invited assistant vice-president Bhushan God and his team to educate the rotarians regarding the changing scenario of banking and the innovative products being offered by Axis bank, along with assistant vice-president, Pawan Kathpalia (UTI Mutual Fund and his team to inform about the various well-performing UTI Mutual Funds..

B.D. Sharma said with the introduction of doorstep and virtual banking concept by various banks, the concept of banking had become quite comfortable. To make the rotarians acquainted with these new terms and the personalised services provided by the bank, a detailed presentation was given by the team of professionals which included Gurpreet Singh (branch sales manager), Aanchal Sooa (priority banking manager), Vishesh Dhingra, Ravneet Chadha and Varun Verma ( business banking, Forex and cash management services). Vikas Batra (investment manager) along with Pawan Kathpalia and Arvind Bhargav put light on UTI Mutual Funds and other investments schemes available with Axis Bank.



CMCH bids adieu to Reynolds
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
A special prayer service was organised yesterday in the memory of Charles Reynolds, a friend and beneficiary of Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH).

Reynolds (83) breathed his last on August 30, after a prolonged illness in Philadelphia, USA. The funeral was held on the September 4. He is survived by wife Maud Hibbard Reynolds.

He will always be remembered for carrying forward the missionary work of pioneers like Edith Brown. His association with CMCH spanned over four decades where he helped a large number of graduates and guided innumerable projects.

Terming him to be “the last among the vanishing breed of missionaries”, Kim Mammen, professor and head, department of urology said, “Charles and Maud have given us much to celebrate. As a family, we will miss Charles for years to come.”

Others who offered condolences to the bereaved family were Mool Raj Kotwal, Rev Ninan Chacko and James Cotelingham.



Book of essays
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
Prof Krishan Singh’s book of essays, ‘Yadan De Jharokhe Chon Ubherde Manvi Sarokar” (Human Relations emerging from the Windows of Memories), was released at a function organised by Art Cave, under the aegis of the Punjabi Sahit Academy, Ludhiana, here on Friday. Prof Singh is on the faculty of post-graduate department of Punjabi at the local Government College for Women. The book, comprising eleven essays, reflects the anguish and pain of a sensitive soul in a transitional society with strong and torturous medieval and tribal strains. In this book, the writer brings out without any personal rancour, how distressing an unaccoutablé system can be.



Civic sense

The recent campaign launched by ‘The Tribune’ about the traffic and parking problems in the city is appreciable. Equally praiseworthy is the role of the police, which followed up the campaign by introducing the system of one-way traffic in the busy Ghumar Mandi. We hope that the traffic police follows it up with other places that are proving to be drivers’ nightmare.

At the same time, the public also needs to develop civic sense. As long as they do not cooperate, no policy can succeed. It is a mutual relationship between the administration and the public.

Once both act in unison, things would certainly work smoothly.

Dr Rajat Kumar, Ludhiana

Readers are invited to mail letters (not more than 200 words) at "ludhiana@tribunemail.com" or post the same to The Tribune, 1, 2 Improvement Trust Building, Badaur House, Clock Tower, Ludhiana.



BSNL celebrates Hindi week
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
S.K. Nigam, general manager, telecom, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), inaugurated Hindi week here.

Addressing the employees, Nigam said they should use Hindi in their day-to-day functioning. BSNL will conduct various programmes during the week-long celebrations.



500 saplings distributed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
Punjab Youth Forum distributed 500 saplings at a function organised at Dukh Nivran Gurdwara here yesterday. The function was presided over by Prit Pal Singh Pali, president of the Gurdwara and Subash Bansal, senior leader BJP. Bansal said that planting more trees was the need of the hour.



Ayyappa Temple holds yajnas
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 9
A large number of Keralites and other persons from South India as well as Ludhianvies thronged the Sree Ayyappa Temple located in Jamalpur here today to attend the annual function. The head priest from Sabarimala shrine along with other very senior 11 priests conducted yajnas for the spiritual growth and prosperity of the society. The yajnas included Sahasra Kalasham, Laksharchana, Ganesh Mahayagya and Naag Pooja among others.

The temple here is a replica of a temple in Kerala and attracts people from all over Punjab. The chief guest of the function was Satpal Gosain, deputy speaker. Harish Bedi, MLA, accompanied him. After the "pooja" was over, the devotees shared the community lunch.




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