L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



Record of pregnant women
It is not possible, say nursing homes
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 29
Even as the state government has directed the ultrasound scan centres to keep complete identity proof of every pregnant woman undergoing the scan to curb the malpractice of prenatal sex-determination test, the provisions of PNDT Act in this regard are being flouted with impunity by many of over 200 ultrasound scan centres in the city.

Scan centres to strike 
work from Nov 1

Having failed to convince the state government to withdraw its orders with regard to identity proof of each pregnant women going for an ultra sound scan, the local branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has urged all scan centres not to offer their services to pregnant women from November 1, 2007.

According to Dr Arun Mitra, president of IMA, a meeting of the state IMA representatives with secretary health T.R. Sarangal and other officials at Chandigarh was inconclusive. In the wake of the “adamant” stand of the government, which was also impractical, the ultrasound scan centres were being asked not to entertain pregnant women till the government relented and the unjust order was withdrawn, he added.

Quite a few ultrasound scan centres, in collusion with nursing homes in different parts of the city, are reported to be offering a package comprising an ultrasound scan and in case of a female foetus, the services for medical termination of pregnancy, of course against a hefty fee. In fact, the ultrasound scan for sex-determination test has virtually been turned into an easy money-making enterprise, both by doctors and certain health officials.

In the process, the fact that Punjab was at the lowest among other states in the male-female population ratio, had been completely forgotten. It is all the more unfortunate that the the scan centres are flouting the Act in connivance with the enforcement authorities (read health department).

The Ludhiana Tribune has learnt from irrefutable sources that the prenatal sex-determination test is being conducted by a large number of scan centres, spread in every nook and corner of the city.

However, everything is being done in a secretive manner, both to avoid penal action and to protect officials, who are allegedly patronising the unlawful activity.

It is learnt that the going rate for prenatal sex determination test is anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 depending upon the paying capacity of the person, and since most of the times it is a one-to-one deal, the sonologists do not have to part with any cut to the referring physicians. The hefty charges collected for the test by the scan centres, therefore, enable them to ‘gift away’ a significant part of the collection to the health officials to keep them in good humour.

Some of the leading city doctors, who have still not forgotten their Hippocratic Oath, did admit that the sex-determination tests are conducted by a few scan centres, but in many such cases, they defend the practice. “We come across several affluent couples who want to know the sex of their unborn child to plan and limit their family. In such instances, the prenatal sex-determination test is done and the decision to go ahead with the pregnancy or not is left entirely to the expecting mother.”

However, the defence of sex-determination test on merit in specific cases holds no water because almost invariably, a majority of the terminated pregnancies are those of the female foetus, maintains a prominent social worker.

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Shingaar blast suspect arrested
Owes allegiance to KLF
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, October 29
The special hunt for terrorists and their facilitators, launched by the Ludhiana (Rural) police to arrest suspects of Shingaar blast, bore fruit when a hardcore terrorist owing allegiance to the Khalistan Liberation Force was arrested from a religious place near Boparai Kalan village last evening.

The terrorist was involved in killing three persons of Jassowal village during the terrorism days. He was also booked for giving shelter to other terrorists and firing at a Mehal Kalan police party.

Though the terrorist did not admit his involvement in the Shingaar blast case, the police hopes to extract important clues to the case.

Swaran Singh, alias Billu, son of Puran Singh of Hardaspura in the Mehal Kalan police station area, was arrested by a police party led by SI Sukhbir Singh from the vicinity of a religious place near Boparai Kalan, near here, last evening. The accused along with his accomplices had gunned down Bachan Singh, son of Rann Singh, and his son Gurdev Singh on August 27, 1992. He was also wanted in connection with a case registered at Mehal Kalan on February 13, 2001, for allegedly killing his wife, Jaspal Kaur.

Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP Ludhiana (Rural), said Swaran Singh had been arrested by a police party led by Sukhbir Singh, sub-inspector, from the vicinity of Gurdwara Sahbe Kamal at Bopa Rai Kalan last evening.

"When we came to know that Billu had been coming to the said religious place frequently, we laid traps in the area. Though he had tried to run away, a party led by Sukhbir Singh, SI, succeeded in arresting him yesterday,” said Bhullar, adding various parties had been deputed in the area to hunt suspects of the Shingaar blast case who had allegedly hatched the plot at Ghuman village.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Billu, along with self-styled commander of KLF Kuldip Singh Keepa of Sheikhupura and an unidentified terrorist had fired indiscriminately on a peasant family of Jassowal village on August 27, 1992. Bachan Singh, son of Rann Singh, head of the family, died on the spot and his son Gurdev Singh succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital.

Though the case had remained unsolved for a long time, Bhajan Singh, son of late Bachan Singh, said the Sudhar police on September 30, 2007, had said that Billu was among the killers of his father and brother. He also said that the accused had been frequently coming to a gurdwara at Boparai Kalan. Ultimately, the police succeeded in arresting him yesterday.

During investigations Billu disclosed that Kuldeep Singh, alias Keepa, of Shekhupura village in PS Dakha, a self-styled commander, Gurmail Singh, alias Gela, of Kaunke Kalan village in PS Jagraon, Mohinder Singh of Machhike village and Bhola of Deena Bajwa (all of KLF group) had been coming to his house during terrorism. He admitted that he along with Keepa had attacked the family of Bachan Singh. However, he denied recognising the third assailant.

Swaran Singh was also booked under Sections 212, 216 of IPC for allegedly providing shelter to terrorists and under Sections 307 and 34 of IPC and Section 4/5 of TDA (P) Act for allegedly attacking a police party at Dhaner village. The Mehal Kalan police has also registered a case against him under Section 302 of IPC for allegedly murdering his wife Jaspal Kaur on February 13, 2001.

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Suicide threat by deed writers, all for space
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 29
Controversy over the start of construction work by deed writers in mini secretariat near the Fast Track court has deepened. Accusing the Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Harish Rai Dhanda, and the district administration of stopping the construction work on the space allotted to them in mini secretariat, the deed writers have threatened to commit suicide.

Accusing the district administration of stopping the construction work on the space allotted to them in mini secretariat, the deed writers have threatened to commit suicide

The space was alloted to them by the district administration. But when the lawyers opposed the construction work saying that it would decrease their parking area resulting into chaos in court complex, the district adminstration took a U-turn.

In a letter written to the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, the deed writers, namely Charanjit Singh Bhikhi and Ajit Singh Batra, Gurdial Singh, Karnail Singh, Kuldeep Singla, Devi Dayal have claimed that they were working in the old district courts for the last 35 years. But when the courts were shifted to the mini secretariat, the lawyers were accommodated but they were not provided any space. They were given licence and permission by the administration to work in the old courts complex.

They said finally they were allotted space near the Judicial Complex by the aministration. But when they started construction, Chief Parliamentary Secretrary Dhanda got stopped the construction work.

Threatening to commit suicide, they added that they were very much upset with the behaviour of the district administration and Dhanda.

On the other hand, Dhanda said that actually he had helped the deed writers by taking up the matter with the DC. Because, where the deed writers had started construction, a multi-storeyed building would be constructed there soon.

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City Centre Scam
Vigilance grills Raninder, Richi
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, October 29
Raninder Singh, alias Tikku, and Raminder Singh Richi, son and son-in-law of former Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh, were today grilled for about three hours by officials of the Vigilance Bureau.

Sources in the bureau said Raninder had failed to give any proper explanation regarding two enteries of Rs 89 lakh and Rs 80 lakh in the bank account of his wife, Reshma. He is also said to have not explained fully regarding the transaction of Rs 22.70 lakh in his account. It is learnt that the bureau had taken the copies of statement of accounts pertaining to Captain's family from their bank situated at Patiala.

However, Raninder and Raminder refused to divulge details about the questioning today. They added that they had fully co-operated with SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Kanwarjit Singh and SP Surjit Singh, who had interrogated them.

During the questioning-cum-interrogation of the duo, Preneet Kaur, MP, waited outside the VB office along with supporters. Talking to reporters here, Parneet Kaur expressed concern over the deteriorationg law and order situation in the state. She added that the Badal government was totally non-serious about the terrorist activities that had started in the state.

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No advance deposits, says PSEB
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 29
The hue and cry being raised by all categories of power consumers, as also by trade and industry associations, against the demand for "advance consumption deposit" (ACD) is misplaced as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has imposed a stay on all such proceedings till December 31, 2007, through a circular.

There were reports of the field offices of the PSEB raising demands on consumers for ACD equivalent to two-month consumption in case of monthly bills and three-month consumption for bi-monthly bills. This had led to widespread panic as the consumers, particularly those in the commercial and industrial categories with heavy consumption, were made to shell out lakhs of rupees as ACD.

The demand for ACD was raised against a large number of consumers all over the state as per recommendations of Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC), and as provided in the proposed Electricity Code.

Highly placed sources in the PSEB said directions had been issued to all field offices to immediately stop all proceedings in this regard as the process for recovery of ACD had been stayed for the time being. “The status will be reviewed at the commencement of next year when the Electricity Code will come into force and even at that time, the amount of ACD will be put up for revision,” said the sources.

The PSERC had recommended recovery of ACD from consumers to check financial losses of the PSEB arising from non-payment of energy bills by defaulting consumers. For this purpose, the field offices had raised demands either by random selection or against those consumers where consumption pattern was assessed and was found to be disproportionate to the security deposit made at the time of obtaining connection or later at the time of enhancement of load.

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Cong men burn Daler Mehndi’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
Vijay Inder Singla, president of the Punjab State Youth Congress, today held a march and burnt an effigy of singer Daler Mehndi in protest against Daler’s use of “rough and indecent” language against former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Singla said Daler was a singer and he should remain within limits and pay attention to his profession which was singing alone. 

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IT staff to strike work today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
In protest against the non-fulfilment of their pending demands, the income tax employees here will observe a one-day strike tomorrow.

The call for the strike has been given by the All-India Income Tax Employees Federation and Income Tax Gazetted Officers’ Association.

The employees have demanded cancellation of appointment of pension-fund managers and merger of 50 per cent dearness allowance with basic pay with all consequential benefits. They have also sought introduction of a statutory pension scheme for new recruits, said Ram Kishan Singh, secretary of the Income Tax Employees Association, Ludhiana.

The other demands raised by the employees include increase in GPF and small savings interest rates and implementation of pending awards of the board of arbitration.

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Automated machines prove a damp squib
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, October 29
The automated energy bill collection machines, installed at two places in the mega city by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) a couple of years back, have failed to serve the desired purpose. The consumers still have to sweat it out at long queues at the payments counters of the board at different places in the city.

The PSEB authorities had installed two ATM type bill collection machines, named “Sewak” at Cheema Chowk and Janta Nagar localities in the city in Aug 2005 to facilitate round the clock payment of energy bills, both by cash and cheques. On receipt of the payment, the machine used to issue a proper receipt to the consumer, giving all the details of account number and mode of payment.

The board authorities had, however, recently discontinued acceptance of payment by cash at these machines, citing operational reasons. On the top of it, the machines were reported to be developing frequent snags and remaining out of order for days together, causing lot of inconvenience to the PSEB consumers.

B.S. Bath, chief engineer, central of PSEB, said there were frequent complaints of counterfeit notes being deposited at the Sewak machines by the consumers. In such instances, the staff retrieving cash from the machines had to bear the burden since the banks would obviously not accept the counterfeit notes.

He said the PSEB authorities were in the process of taking up the issue with the manufacturers of the bill collection machines to equip the system with a mechanism (ultra violet reader) that could detect and reject counterfeit currency notes. Once this problem was solved, the facility of making bill payment in cash would be restored to the consumers.

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Ferozepore road becomes killer point
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
Three persons were killed and two others injured in a bus-car collision near the octroi post on Ferozepur Road on August 24. One person died and three others were seriously injured in another bus-car collision at the same spot on October 28. Not just these two accidents, the venue has been witness to scores of accidents, several unreported, at the same spot, this year alone.

Slow construction of a sewer on this path has been causing inconvenience and become a safety hazard to hundreds of innocent travellers on the main road. Its construction has been going on for eight months. To top it all, any route indications are absent, adding to the confusion of passers-by.

The ongoing construction not only hampers routine traffic, it results in perpetual traffic jams. As winter season sets in, the danger levels would reach alarming proportions due to fog that occurs this time of the year.

Sanjeev Kumar, a resident of Barewal Road, said he had stopped sending his wards by auto-rickshaw. “The stretch is so dangerous that I am quite concerned about the safety of my children who take this route for their schools. Due to this, I personally go to drop them. It is high time that the construction was completed. The authorities need to take a serious view of it,” he said.

Area residents said despite frequent accidents, authorities seem to be taking a lenient view of the situation. “How many more accidents do they want before taking action? There is hardly any day when I have not seen an accident happening on this stretch. I have stopped taking a two-wheeler and prefer boarding a bus to reach my work place,” said Neelu Ajra, a resident of Asha Puri. Stressing the urgency of the situation, residents urged the authorities to take action before winter sets in so that more accidents could be avoided.

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Bhardwaj takes over as BJP dist chief

Ludhiana, October 29
Om Parkash Bhardwaj took over as the BJP’s district unit chief here today. He formally took the charge from outgoing president Subhash Verma at the party’s office near the Clock Tower Chowk.

The venue was flooded with party workers and office-bearers. Talking to the party workers, after the installation ceremony, Bhardwaj said: “Since the BJP is sharing the power in the state, all efforts will be made to listen and solve the grievances of the common men. — TNS

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Granth Sahib tercentenary
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
The Senior Sikh Intellectuals Council has decided to observe tercentenary of holy Guru Granth Sahib in October 2008.

In its monthly meeting held under the presidentship of Lochan Singh Bhan at Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar here today, the council also decided to bring out a souvenir on the philosophy of Guru Granth Sahib on the occasion. The council also decided to organize a medical check-up camp in the second week of November.

The meeting was attended among others by Gurbux Singh Bhatia, Bhupinder Singh Sachdeva, Gurbux Singh Khurana, S.S.Lamba, S.S.Lamba and Harcharan Singh.

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Rights panel calls for Panthic meet on Oct 31
Bid to defuse crisis in SAD(A)
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO), in order to carry forward the mission of the Sikh gurus, fully enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and as conceived by Akal Takht, will discuss the ongoing political crisis that has arisen in the SAD (A), in the Panthic meet.

IHRO chairperson D.S.Gill said: “The meeting of the representatives of socio-religious, students and human rights groups, including Sikh intellectuals, non-party political activists and institutions, will be held on October 31.

According to IHRO general secretary Mohinder Singh Grewal, the organisation is likely to propose the formation of a political party based on “Panch Pradhani” system (presidium) by calling upon a few splinter groups to form a group for fulfilling the aspirations of the Sikhs.

If need be, the IHRO will try to prepare a draft constitution, its coordinator Sukhdev Singh and its public relation secretary, Inderjit Kaur, said in a statement issued here today.

They have also roped in representatives of Damdami Taksal, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Sikh Student Federation, and Nihang Singh’s for taking part in the Panthic meet.

Meanwhile, the IHRO in its core group meeting has expressed concern over the crisis in the SAD (A) and asked its leaders to maintain decency and decorum.

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Motorcyclist hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jagraon, October 29
Tota Singh of Malak a motorcyclist was injured in road mishap today. He was coming on his motorcycle No.PB-29C-9418 to Jagraon when an Ikon car No.PB-08AH-2478 in an attempt of overtaking a Maruti car coming from the opposite side on Malak road hit his motorcycle injured him. The injured has been admitted in the local civil hospital.

Burn

Jasvir Singh of Sidhwan Bet received burn injuries and has been admitted in the local civil hospital for treatment. Jasvir Singh was preparing tea on a kerosene stove when it burst causing burn injuries.

Booked

Manvir Singh alias Micky, Hakam Singh, Binder Singh of Himatpura and Jashanpreet Singh of Patti Motte Hathur alongwith three unknown persons illegally trespassed into, the land belonging to Nazar Singh of Patti Motte Hathur and also threatened the complainant. The local police has registered a case under section 447, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.

Damaged

Truck (PB-10G-6508) driven by Balwinder Singh of Tajpur collided with Ascent car (PB-57A-6464) near Bhaini Bringa. The car was badly damaged. The Raikot police has registered a case on a complaint of car owner Pardip Singh of Bhaini Brainga.

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Form-C: Industry seeks one-yr extension
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 29
As the last date for submitting C forms draws nearer, the local industry has once again expressed its helplessness in furnishing 'C' forms to the state excise and taxation department. It has urged the excise department to extend the last date for the submission of the forms by one year.

The industrialists said old cases might be considered under 'deemed assessed' provision. "A major part of our sales are inter-state and customers express their inability to remit C forms saying that they are not available. In such a situation it will not be possible for us to submit these forms by November 20,”Vinod Thapar of the Knitwear Club said.

Industrialists have also written a letter to the financial commissioner (Taxation) in this regard.

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