L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Post-Bank Heist
Banks told to tighten security
Advised limited cash
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
An alert has been sounded in the state, especially in and around Ludhiana, following a bank heist at Khamano yesterday.

Also, a number of banks have directed their branches in suburban and rural areas to keep limited cash with them.

With security in banks coming under special focus, the Ludhiana police has directed banks to install closed-circuit television (CCTV). However, managements of various banks say there is no such provision in their rules.

Bank officials, wishing not to be quoted, said it was too much of a financial burden to install CCTV in banks. They said they were dependent on the police to provide security.

Sources said banks had been directed to keep limited cash, which could be claimed under insurance in the face of such an event.

Most banks defy rules by keeping cash ten times more than the insurance limit.

Banks have been directed to keep limited amount of money and deposit the remaining with the prescribed currency chest to avoid major loss in case of a robbery.

However, this may spell more trouble for banks as the money will have to be moved in and out of the bank more often. The police held meetings with managers of various banks at the Police Lines this afternoon. The meeting was chaired by SP Roopinder Singh.

Apart from discussing the contentious issue of keeping security guards round the clock at banks, police officials asked managers to upgrade alarm system and install CCTVs.

Bank sources said CCTVs could not be installed at the directions of the police alone. “This is a contentious issue. It is a policy decision, which cannot be taken at the district or division level,” said a bank manager.

Staff was ignorant of alarm 
Manish Sirhindi & Gurminder Singh Grewal
Tribune Reporters

Khamano, October 25
Lax security arrangements at the State Bank of India’s local branch proved to be the turning point yesterday, as three armed men carried out one of the biggest bank robberies in the state with much ease.

Even as an infrared alarm system was installed in the bank’s vault, the employees did not know how to activate it. In fact, the alarm system had never been activated, as the bank authorities preferred to take it easy.

Investigations carried out by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the alarm system had been designed to go off if the vault was left open for over a minute or as programmed by the authorities.

The costly equipment had been in place for the past several years, but it had never been used by the employees. A senior police official stated that the alarm system could have prevented the robbery.

Besides, the authorities of the bank did not follow bank instructions. The police was quick to discover that there had been “flagrant violations” on part of the staff, bringing their role under suspicion.

The keys to the bank had been handed over to a peon and the security guard was without his service weapon when he reached the bank yesterday. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the police has beefed up security arrangements around financial institutions.

SSP Nilabh Kishore said police patrolling around banks had been stepped up and fresh instructions had been issued to all banks to revamp their security arrangements.

The police has also asked bank authorities to ensure that banks are opened and closed in the presence of branch manager.

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CM’s visit
Daresi Road cleared of encroachments... for a day
Kanchan Vasdev/TNS

Ludhiana, October 25
The otherwise heavily encroached upon Daresi Road in old city today wore a cleaner and wider look, thanks to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s visit to a function on Valmiki Jayanti here.

Encroachers, including those selling vegetables, fruits and knickknacks, were pushed away, as the municipal corporation’s tehbazaari department and the police remained on their toes to keep the area clean, at least till Badal remained in Daresi.

While Badal was scheduled to arrive around 4 pm, the authorities concerned started clearing out encroachments right from the morning so as to pave a smooth way for his cavalcade.

The encroachers were seen carrying their paraphernalia to other parts of the city. “A minister is coming.

That is why they are shooing us away,” said Moti Ram, a vegetable seller. Criticising the police, he said: “They think poor man has no right to live. Only a ‘mantri’ has life in this country.”

The day was in stark contrast to any other day in Daresi, which is one of the most congested areas in the city.

Encroachers rule the roost on Daresi Road. Snarl-ups are commonplace here due to congestion.

Vegetable vendors litter the road with stale vegetables.

The waste attracts stray cattle and the they feast in the middle of the road.

Today, however, the roads were swept clean, garbage was carted away, roadsides were lined with lime powder and the berms painted.

“When we receive a guest at home, do we not clean the house prior to his visit? What is wrong if we clean the area where the chief minister is coming?” said an official.

Residents, however, crticised the municipal corporation for going gaga over a VIP’s visit and caring little about the common man.

“They do not care about us. We suffer every day. Garbage stinks in the area and encroachments dot the roadsides. In spite of repeated complaints, nobody listens to us,” rued a shopkeeper in the area.

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LeT threat keeps cops on toes
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
The security agencies today maintained strict vigil at the local railway station amid concerns of terror attack there.

The police and the railways authorities had received a number of threatening letters during the past one month.

The letters, sent allegedly by terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Toiba, had threatened to blow up the station. The letters had been signed by Karim Ansari, claiming to be linked to the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Investigation revealed that the letters had been posted from Phagwara. The sender was still untraced. Besides the railway police, some journalists and railway officials had received the letters.

Leaving nothing to chance, especially after the Shingaar blast, the security agencies, including the Railway Protection Force, the Government Railway Police and the local police, maintained strict vigil at the railway station.

The railway civil defence was specially pressed into service to help maintain peace.

Besides maintaining surveillance at the station, the police also scoured railway tracks across the city.

Besides, the police, both in uniform as well as mufti, kept a watch on the movement of passengers, frisked some suspects and searched luggage.

Metal detectors were installed at entry points, while canines from the dog squad sniffed through the luggage, trains and tracks.

“Usually we don’t take much notice of such letters. But after the recovery of RDX near Mullanpur, the Shingaar cinema blast and the intelligence inputs of terror threats, the letters were taken seriously this time,” said a senior police official.

Police sources said services of anti-bomb and anti-sabotage squads were also taken.

The police teams also searched trains coming into the station.

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Chhapar Mela
Cops had made foolproof security for CM
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 25
Had the police not taken extra precautions, after seizing 3.5 kg of RDX from a car of Gurpreet Singh Khalsa, who along with three accomplices has been booked for allegedly conspiring to install the fatal shell, the miscreants could have struck at massive gatherings during Chhapar mela that concluded last month near here.

The state police was so apprehensive of some seditious activity last month that the Chief Minister was made to travel 20 km by a car to Malerkotla town and then land exactly behind the stage prepared for the SAD conference on September 27. Though Chhapar village is situated near the town, authorities preferred not take any chance.

Enquiry by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the Ludhiana (Rural) police had taken extra precautions in drafting security plans at Chhapar mela last month.

SSP Ludhiana (Rural) Gurpreet Singh Bhullar was learnt to have directed the mela in charge to rule out every possibility of explosive mines buried at or near conference site of the SAD. Special teams led by forensic experts were seen combing each part of the pandal that was prepared to accommodate gathering on September 27 when Badal was to address the conference.

The apprehensions of the police surfaced on September 26, when Sangrur SSP Arun Pal Singh had rejected all sites at the town and surrounding areas proposed for preparing helipad for the Chief Minister’s copter. Ultimately the ground of Government College Malerkotla was chosen for the purpose and the Chief Minister’s cavalcade was made to drive on road to local Galla Mandi. Though leaders and activists of the SAD and the BJP had gathered in large numbers to greet their leader nobody was allowed to enter the premises where he was invited for the breakfast. 

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Play safe this Diwali, caution doctors

Ludhiana, October 25
The indiscriminate use of fire crackers during the current festival season, and particularly around Diwali, creates enormous environmental and noise pollution, besides causing other health problems due to over indulgence in eating, drinking and partying in the course of celebrations. According to doctors at leading city hospitals, a large number of merry-makers, particularly children, sustain burn injuries due to unsafe bursting of fire crackers while many others suffer from variety of asthmatic attacks.

Quoting a study, Dr Poonam Rastogi, gynecologist, SPS Apollo Hospitals, said expectant women, when exposed to the highest levels of carbon monoxide, respirable particulate and ozone, were three times more prone to give birth to children with heart defects.

“Crackers with high decibel sound contain extremely toxic heavy metals like cadmium, lead, copper, manganese and zinc while other crackers have arsenic, mercury, chromium and iron oxides which lead to severe pollution after they are burnt. The presence of ultra fine particulate matter in these emissions is known to cause adverse health effects like heart and lung disorder, respiratory illness, mortality and increased risk of cancer among expectant women.” Dr Rajinder Gulati, a pediatrician at ESI Model Hospital, pointed out that children seemed to be particularly vulnerable since they were the ones who were most enthusiastic about lighting fire crackers. — OC

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Post-Blast
Bahrain, Lahore teams pull out
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
Two schools from foreign have opted to remain out of the 3rd inter school youth festival,2007, organised by BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School following the recent Shingaar bomb blast.

Indian School,Bahrain and Beacon House School, Lahore, preferred to be out for security reasons.

The last minute pull out has eclipsed the enthusiasm of the Youth Festival due to the absence of the two teams.

Paramjit Kaur, the principal of the BCM Arya Model Senior Secondary School, has also expressed her disappointment and said, “the last minute pull out by the Indian Public School and Beacon House School, Lahore has certainly disappointed us. We have made all the necessary arrangement months before the festival and the last minute pull out has spoiled all our effort made by the school”.

The organisers were however happy that other schools from foreign countries have reached here despite the blasts.

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World Technology Day
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 25
The Punjab Technical University and Chitkara Institute of Engineering and Technology observed World Technology Day on the campus of the institute here yesterday.

Chief guest on the occasion was Swarna Ram, minister of technical education and industrial training, social security and development of women and children, Punjab. Dr S.K. Salwan, vice-chancellor, PTU, delivered the keynote address.

Dr Ashok Chitkara, president, Chitkara Educational Trust and Dr Madhu Chitkara, chairperson of trust welcomed the guests. 

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Gen-X — Where are they heading?
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 25
Irrespective of their family background the youth of the area in general and students in particular have developed craze for motorcycle and mobile. Majority of the beneficiaries, failing to understand limitations of their parents were found to have managed these things by emotionally blackmailing them.

While the teaching community termed the trend as hazardous for promotion of education among boys, the students maintained that motorcycle and mobile was no longer a luxury. They rather claimed that these were required for saving time and energy.

Observation revealed that majority of students irrespective of financial position of their parents had been coming to schools on motorcycles and bringing mobiles with them.

According to Pardeep Sharda, principal of local senior secondary schools, a large number of students of high and senior wing had been coming to the school on their motorcycles. Some bank had financed a large proportion of the vehicles or a financier as the poor parents could not afford to buy such items for their wards. Mobile phone was another evil that had not only affected studies of the students, constrained relations among teachers and parents of the children who had been caught bringing phones to classes.

Manager of private school held the unhealthy competition among institutes and small family norm responsible for the trend. Karnail Singh, father of class X student of a local school told he had availed a loan to purchase motorcycle for his son.

The son had threatened to commit suicide in case he was not provided a motorcycle.

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Follow Valmiki’s preachings, exhorts Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has exhorted people to adopt the philosophy of humanity propounded by Bhagwan Valmiki in their lives for a harmonious society.

He was addressing a gathering of the followers of Bhagwan Valmiki, before flagging off a shobha yatra organised by the Bharti Valmiki Dharam Samaj to mark the Parkash Utsav of Bhagwan Valmiki at Daresi Ground here today.

The chief minister said Valmiki had laid down set guidelines on all aspects of life, including social, religious and political.

He called upon people from all sections of society to jointly celebrate the Parkash Utsav of Bhagwan Valmiki, so that the mutual brotherhood and communal harmony in the society could be further strengthened.

Referring to the plans of his government for the uplift of weaker sections, Badal said Rs 1,330 crore had been earmarked in the current year’s plan for the welfare of SCs and STs, which constituted 26 per cent of the total plan.

He added that the state government had also waived pending loans of Rs 14 crore against 26,000 Dalits and economically weaker families.

He said the government had established a dedicated social security fund of Rs 482.46 crore to release regular pensions under various schemes of social security departments.

He added that SAD-BJP government, immediately after coming into power, had enhanced the amount of grant for the construction of houses for the homeless SC families from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000 per unit.

He also asked municipal corporation mayor to solve the problems of safai workers and other employees belonging to the Dalit samaj.

Prof Rajinder Bhandari, BJP president, said the message of morality and brotherhood was relevant in the present times.

He assured that government had planned a number of schemes for the welfare of the downtrodden.

Among those who participated in the yatra included Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, jails, tourism and cultural affairs minister Hira Singh Gabria, deputy speaker Sat Pal Gosain, CPS Harish Rai Dhanda, former minister Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, and mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura.

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Pak girls also wanna have fun
Amazed to see city eves ride bikes
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
Why should boys have all the fun, the old English number aptly depicted the expression on the faces of Pakistani girls as they were left mesmerised at the sight of the girls zooming past in the city on their motorbikes.

The students and faculty of Frobel’s International School, Islamabad, who are in city to participate in the 3rd Inter-School Youth Festival (Fusion- 2007) at B.C.M Arya Model Senior Secondary School, wanted to drive the two wheelers as they were not privileged enough to do so as their male counterparts back home.

Qudsia Sufi, a literature teacher in Frobel’s school, who is on her maiden visit to India, said she was amazed to see not only young girls but elderly women also driving their own vehicles. ‘‘On entering India through Wagah check point we did not witness much of a difference between the two cultures but once we entered the city we were amazed to see women driving two wheelers. Our schoolgirls and even I never had a chance to ride a two wheeler.”

Another student said the girls here had got more freedom of expression as compared to those in Pakistan. However, there are no such restriction imposed on them and they got freedom of whatever they want to do.

For Shafiqyer- Rehman, an art teacher, said, “Though things like the terrain, the people, the surrounding and to certain extent the culture are same, but on entering Amritsar I felt a change worth noticing, which I related to the freedom of fairer sex”. He is quite enchanted to see the girls riding scooters. “We give due respect and freedom to women but, girls riding scooter and motorbikes we have not seen it so far in Pakistan and it is beyond our imagination. I am quite excited to see girls riding scooter. It exhibits a beautiful picture of civilized society.”

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Vigilance sleuths raid municipal council
Land acquisition records seized
Our Correspondent

Mandi Gobindgarh, October 25
The Vigilance Bureau raided the local municipal council’s office on Tuesday.

The records pertaining to acquisition of a piece of the land for parking trucks were taken into possession.

Former municipal council chief Bal Mukand Aggarwal in a complaint lodged with the local bodies minister stated that about 66 acre was acquired in 1994 for constructing the stand for parking trucks. But, the council (vide resolution No. 172 dated December 12, 2001) passed a resolution for returning the land to its owners.

Consequently, the land was returned to the farmers at the same price whereas its price has skyrocketed, even the interest of the price paid to them has not been recovered from them.

When contacted former council chief and PPCC treasurer Joginder Pal Singla said the land was acquired in 1994 and thereafter returned to the farmers in compliance of the resolution passed by the then council headed by Akali party chief and the necessary permission from the government to return the land was also obtained by him.

He further stated that Rs 11.66 lakh was also recovered from he farmers as the cost of the land.

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Wrestlers upset over postponement of event Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
The wrestling championship that was postponed for an indefinite period today evoked a strong reaction from wrestlers from a large number of countries.

Upset over the postponement of the event, the wrestlers said they were “quite disappointed as they had been looking forward to this event for the past few months now”.

After the wrestlers were informed about this, a Russian wrestler got violent and hurled abuses. He even threw a table on mediapersons who had to run out of the press conference for sometime.

Later, apologizing to media, Tiger Jit Singh said he accepted the challenge and the wrestlers from all over the world come to India.

“We are disappointed and know that people too will be unhappy over this postponement. However, we will come again.”

An uncomfortable silence prevailed in the hall where the wrestlers were present to talk about the event.

It was Tiger Jit Singh and Tiger Ali, who then addressed mediapersons and said,” It was a championship of India versus the rest of the world. We promise to return and win.”

Explaining Nikita’s behaviour, Jerry Lynn said, “They are off balance as the postponement was informed barely couple of minutes ago.”

For city residents, the postponement comes as a major disappointment. While organisers said the entire amount of the tickets that had been sold would be refunded, residents said it was unfair to cancel such a big event.

The championship had been in middle of controversies due to problems pertaining to permission from the administration.

However, the organisers, who were unwilling to comment on the matter today, had earlier claimed that they had received all due permissions.

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CIC seeks change in RTI Act
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
The Central Information Commission has sought that specific provisions should be included under the Right to Information Act, 2005, in dealing with the contempt proceedings for non-compliance of orders. The change has been sought in the wake of considerable non-compliance of the orders passed by the state commissions. Lacking uniformity in the procedure of enquiry for different commissions and standard procedure are cited as the main reasons behind the problem.

The demand for the change in provisions has been made as a part of the conference of the Central Information Commission with the state chief information commissioners and information commissioners, in New Delhi, last week.

The set of recommendations was presented to union minister of state for personnel and parliamentary affairs, Suresh Pachauri, by Wajahat Habibulluh, chief information commissioner, seeking an early implementation.

The commission has sought that greater accountability of the public authorities and the first appellate authorities in addressing the appeals under the RTI Act be fixed. The amount of penalty imposed or compensation awarded by the commission should be made recoverable.

The commission has sought that a new section be introduced for dismissal of frivolous or vexatious complaints. Another recommendation calls for power to review its own decision. A penal provision has been asked for unlawful destruction and non-retrieval of official records. 

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10 yrs on, people decide to take on MC
Reason: Despite money spent, tank remains unutilised
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
A 10-year-old overhead water tank that is lying unutilised due to faulty engineering design in Vikas Nagar market is all set to haunt the municipal corporation as residents of the area have sought information under the RTI Act from it about the cost of its construction and engineers and contractors involved in the project.

The tank has never been put to use as it has been leaking since the day one. The universal cultural and social welfare society has now decided to corner the municipal corporation under the RTI Act in this regard.

President of the society, Inderjeet Singh Gumber, said as the tank was lying unused despite huge expenditure incurred on its construction; the residents were always facing water scarcity in the area.

He added that they had to depend on electricity, which has become costly, to pump out the water with the help of a motor. Even sometimes the areas like Punjab Mata Nagar and Surya Enclave situated at high ground level have to go without water for months.

Another member, Sarabjit Singh, claimed that due to faulty design the water pipes explode when the water was released from the water tank due to very high pressure. Despite a few complaints to the municipal corporation nothing substantial has been done so far.

Nalin Kaushik said they had also sought queries regarding the annual maintenance and operational expenses incurred by the municipal corporation to check leakage and other engineering defects along with the action taken against the erring persons. 

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Suicide bid by trader
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
A debt-ridden hosiery trader allegedly tried to commit suicide by consuming some poisonous substance after he failed to repay the loan he had taken from a few banks.

The trader, Jagdish Lal, was reportedly under stress due to the debt. Though, he had taken loans from the banks but could not pay the installments regularly.

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Reinstate sacked workers: PSEB staff
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 25
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today held a rally at the office of the Sunder Nagar division, demanding reinstatement of seven agitating workers, including union activists at Patiala.

They had gathered at a call given by the PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC).

They further called upon the management to revoke the suspension orders of employees at Abohar, Samrala, Ropar and Sangrur.

Union leaders Walaiti Khan, Kasturi Lal, Ram Asra, Ghanaya Lal, Chamkaur Singh and Gopal Singh termed the termination of union activists and other workers at Patiala an act of vindictiveness and encroachment on constitutional rights of workers to protest.

The union activists asked the authorities to do away with spot billing scheme and outsourcing of other works.

They asked the board management to fill all vacant posts, provide employment on compassionate grounds to eligible family member of employees, scrap privatisation and contract system and revoke the Electricity Act, 2003.

The speakers gave a call to other unions associated with the board to join hands and launch a unified struggle against unjust decisions of the board and the state government.

They urged farmers, workers and small entrepreneurs to strengthen their struggle in the larger interest of all categories of power consumers.

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Shopkeeper shot at
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, October 25
A shopkeeper, his wife and son were yesterday booked for shooting at another shopkeeper of Druga Mandir Road market, here.

Mulak Singh, a local resident, who owns a medical shop, fired two shots at Narinder Singh following a quarrel over a trivial matter. The two had a difference over dumping of waste material by Mulak Singh outside Narinder’s shop. Later at night, the two shopkeepers got into a confrontation following which Mulak Singh’s wife asked him to shoot Narinder dead.

Narinder had a narrow escape as one of the bullets missed his head by a few inches. However, a bullet hit him in the thigh causing a grave injury. 

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Rs 5.5 lakh snatched, recovered
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
While the local police is under stress for not being able to prevent Shingaar bomb blast, bank robberies and daily snatching incidents, the Kotwali police has provided a silver lining by catching an accused minutes after he had snatched Rs 5.50 lakh from a bank employee.

SHO Sandeep Wadhera told Ludhiana Tribune that the incident took place near the clock tower yesterday. An accused later identified as Satya Raj snatched a bag containing Rs 5.50 lakh from Tejveer Singh, an UTI Bank employee. The gunman of the bank was accompanying Tejveer but still the accused managed to run away.

A Kotwali police team saw the two chasing the accused. They intercepted and caught him.

The SHO said the cops showed remarkable presence of mind and recovered the stolen amount. He said the cops would be given recommendation certificates.

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Letters
Consumers’ rights

This is in response to the statement issued by the Chief Minister and Manoranjan Kalia (The Tribune; October 11) that big retailers like Reliance and others should not enter the state at the cost of small and petty shopkeepers. The middlemen and retailers earn more profit than the farmers and producers. The farmers make investments, put in labour and also run the risk of a crop failure. The middlemen and retailers don’t have face such risk, and the investment in a few commodities, like meat and fresh vegetables, is also for a limited period. This results in poor economic condition and resources of the farmers and as a result of which proper production is never achieved. On the other hand, the consumers pay exorbitant price and that too through their noses. It is the high time that consumers should start opposing anti-consumer policies of the government and protect their rights

Dr B.S.Thind, Ludhiana

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Man gets life imprisonment for killing wife
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 25
Sessions Judge G.K. Rai has sentenced Kuldeep Singh of Bajra village, Ludhiana, to undergo life imprisonment on the charges of killing his wife, Kirandeep Kaur, alias Kiran, in 2005.

Delivering the verdict, the Judge held that the prosecution had beyond any doubt successfully proved the guilt of the accused and thus turned down the leniency plea raised by the accused.

The accused was further sentenced to undergo imprisonment for five years, under Section 27 of the Arms Act. Fine of Rs 4,000 was also imposed on him.

On November 15, 2005, the accused was booked under Section 302 of the IPC and 27 of the Arms Act at the Basti Jodhewal Police Station, following the complaint lodged by Gurvinder Singh, Kirandeep’s brother.

The complainant had told the police that the accused starting maltreating and harassing her sister two years ago. He had started demanding more dowry and used to beat her. They used to prevail upon her and had sent her home after taking panchayat’s help. About four to five months ago, the accused had turned out his wife from his home after thrashing her, he added.

After about three months, accused came to their house and requested them to send his wife back, as the children were not doing well in studies. Then their family members prevailed upon her and sent her back. Few days ago, her sister told on telephone that accused had been beating her as a result of which her shoulder had dislocated.

Hearing this they reached the accused’s house who told them that the reason for quarrel was that he had given the Diwali gifts received from factory to his brother’s wife. This act had annoyed his wife. But the complainant added that his sister had told him that accused was having illicit relations with another woman. He used to keep her in the house in her absence and for that reason he wanted to kill her.

On the fateful day, they were about to enter the accused’s house when they heard noise of shots being fired. After some time, the accused came out and openly said he had killed his wife. He was brandishing 12 bore double barrel gun.

According to prosecution, noise of gun shots attracted the people and with their help, the outer door of house was locked. Then the police team reached the spot and apprehended the accused. However, during the trial accused pleaded innocence. But finding cogent and convincing evidence against him, the court sentenced him. 

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