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BJP leader gets forest officer suspended
Tikshan Sood mum on the charges against him
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
The issue involving the divisional forest officer and a local BJP leader over allowing a way to a marriage palace through the forest land and subsequent registration of a case against the leader took an uglier turn with the Forest Department placing the DFO under suspension.

Confirming this to The Tribune today, forest minister Tikshan Sood said DFO R.R. Kakkar was suspended by the department. He, however, refused to comment on the charges levelled against Kakkar. He said officials were in a better position to say anything about the details of the case.

The BJP leadership in the district, including deputy speaker, Vidhan Sabha, Satpal Gosain, had been gunning against the DFO for a month. Gosain had even shot off letters to the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, asking him to suspend the official for getting a representative of public booked although he had ‘‘just put in a word to help a common man.’’

Following the development today that took the city by a storm, the seemingly unperturbed DFO said he was ‘‘up and not out. ’’

He said he was morally right and he was not disappointed with the working of the government. ‘‘I am not disappointed with the treatment meted out to me for protecting the forest land, there are many who will carry forward my mission now.’’

Mincing no words, Kakkar said he was got suspended by BJP leader Sukhminder Singh Grewal, who was one of the accused in the FIR registered on the former's complaint.

‘‘I was getting feelers all these days to withdraw his name from the FIR. But he had abused me and forced to get the work done though later on he was saying that he had just wanted to help a man, ’’ alleged Kakkar.

The issue had hogged headlines when the police had booked Varinder Singh, a reporter of a Mohali-based Punjabi daily, a resident of Mullanpur, who was building Taj Resorts on the main road. The DFO had complained that Grewal, former state president of the Bharatiya Janta Yuva Morcha, had called him up after posing himself as a state leader of the party.

Grewal had been claiming that it was his duty as a leader of the public to facilitate meeting between an official and a commoner.

‘‘ I just called him up so that he could listen to Varinder Singh. I did not pressure him to get any work done. And he is levelling allegations that I threatened him, ’’ said Grewal.

He added that he had received a call from a social worker to put in a word for Varinder Singh. ‘‘I just did that. And look at the way it had been blown out of proportions. A representative of public is being treated like this.’’ 

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ATMs churn out fake, soiled notes
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
Fake and soiled currency notes have become a norm at most of the ATMs of local banks causing unnecessary harassment to residents.

Even as the city residents have been facing the problem for quite a few months, the banks continue to overlook the gravity of the situation. Most banks have not even put to place any system for customers to list the problems they encounter while making an ATM transaction.

For the residents, a fake or a soiled currency note churned out by an ATM becomes useless as banks refuse to owe responsibility of these notes. And with usage of offsite ATMs and machines of other banks for withdrawal of money getting popular, replacing such notes becomes near impossible.

"Only last week, when I made a withdrawal from a bank's ATM, I found a couple of torn notes, some of them were joined using a cellophane tape. It was sheer harassment and I was helpless," complained Ravi Chander, a resident of Millerganj.

Apart from soiled notes, incidences of machines churning out fake notes are also on the rise. "Recently I had to face quite an embarrassing situation when after shopping I gave the notes, I had withdrawn from ATM, but was told that the notes were fake. As I was not even carrying a credit card, I had to leave my entire stuff at the shop," rued G.S. Batra, a telecom employee.

"Private sector banks discourage branch visits. But if ATMs are to churn out notes that are of no use to us, where should we go," questioned Gurprit Singh, a marketing executive.

A senior official of a private bank said the bank tried to solve the problem as and when it was brought to their note. "But it is not possible to own responsibility when a customer comes to us the next day or when a withdrawal is made from an offsite ATM or a machine of some other bank," the official admitted.

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Mother poisons girl, herself to death
Son admitted to DMCH in serious condition
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
A woman of Bagga Kalan village near Laddowal and her daughter were dead while her son was admitted in a serious condition to DMC Hospital after they consumed some poisonous substance under mysterious circumstances last midnight.

Though the exact reason for taking such an extreme step was yet to be ascertained, the police believed the woman, Paramjit Kaur, decided on her own to end her life and the children’s, apparently in a disturbed state over the poor financial condition of the family.

She and her 13-year-old daughter Lovpreet Kaur, a student of class VII in a village school died in DMC Hospital this morning. Her two-year-old son, Tarunveer Singh, was under treatment. Relatives rushed them to the hospital at about 2 am today.

Sarbjit Singh, husband of the deceased woman, owns one acre land and worked as a night watchman. He earned Rs 2,500 from the job. The income was proving less for the family with the expenditure of the children’s education increasing day by day.

Investigating officer ASI Surinder Singh said as per the circumstantial evidence so far, the woman seemed to have given celphos tablets mixed with milk or an eatable to the children late at about midnight.

Her husband was away on night duty. At about 1 am, the daughter woke up her maternal aunt living the next door telling how all of them were sick. She lost consciousness before she could give details.

The police official said no suicide note has been found and Sarbjit Singh, husband of the woman, was not in a position to make any statement on the issue. He ruled any illicit relationship behind the alleged suicide.

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Jail for selling unsafe milk
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
Chief judicial magistrate Rajinder Aggarwal has sentenced a milk vendor Nachhatar Singh of near Virasat Bhawan, Ferozepur Road, Ludhiana, to undergo imprisonment for six months on the charges of selling adulterated milk. Fine of Rs 1,000 was also imposed on the accused.

The orders were pronounced by the court while deciding the complaint filed by food inspector Ravinder Pal Garg under the Prevenention of Food Adulteration Act.

According to the prosecution, the food inspector had taken a sample of milk on March 22, 1999, when the accused was going to sell it. Thereafter, the sample was sent to the Public Analyst, Chandigarh. The report of the analyst confirmed that the milk was adulterated.

Thereafter, the complaint was filed before the court by the health department, Punjab. However, during the trial, the accused claimed himself to be innocent.

The defence lawyer took several pleas and assailed the case of prosecution on technical grounds. But convinced with the submissions of additional public prosecutor Sukhchain Singh in light of the evidence adduced by the prosecution on record, the court found the accused guilty and sentenced accordingly.

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Councillors’ ultimatum to mayor
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
The opposition in Municipal Corporation house today gave an ultimatum to city mayor Hakam Singh Gyaspura to constitute F&CC committee failing which they would be forced to agitate.

At a meeting attended by 14 Congress councillors and led by leader of the opposition Prem Mittal, the members decided to hold dharnas after a week if the committee was not constituted.

Prem Mittal said due to delay in constitution, all development works were lying pending.

Due to differences among SAD leaders, the F&CC has not been constituted as yet. 

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Pollution level in Punjab alarming, says expert
Tribune News Service

Bhaini Sahib, November 12
Indian born American agriculturist, Nazar Singh Kooner, on a visit here with a delegation from USA was upset at rising pollution level in Punjab.

He visited his native village, Kot Gangu Rai situated close to Nankana Sahib Senior Secondary School Public School, near Bhaini Sahib, where he presided over a function.

He was accompanied by an American delegation consisting Harvey L. Hall, Mayor Bakersfield, Teresa Macias, chief operating officer of Sequoia Community Health Centers, California, and Frank Tripieuhio, member of Sister Cities International Board of Directors.

While talking to the Tribune, Nazar Singh said, “The main motive to bring the Mayor was to show him the Agricultural potential of the state but I was surprised by the rising pollution levels here.

“The kind of pesticides used in the fields here were highly poisonous and it was really discouraging to see the methods of agriculture being used in the state,” he added

Harvey L. Hall, Mayor of Bakersfield, who was on his maiden visit to the state was bowled over by the Punjabi culture.

Nazar Singh Kooner donated Rs 50,000 to the school.

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Bid to rob Coop Society staff of Rs 8 lakh
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 12
Two robbers tried unsuccessfully to rob Rs 8.45 lakh from employees of the Cooperative Society, Jaladiwal, on a kutcha road near Raikot this afternoon. Alert villagers and farmers working in the fields along the kutcha road forced robbers to flee after the staff raised the alarm after being ambushed.

Though the circle police had warned the society authorities against shifting of heavy amounts without adequate security, the cashier ignored the advice and tried to carry cash on scooter and that also without informing the Jalaldiwal police.

Two unidentified robbers unsuccessfully tried to snatch Rs 8.45 lakh from Gurmel Singh and Jarnail Singh, cashier and peon of the society today. One of the miscreants was wearing a turban and the other had the appearance of a mullah. They fled from the scene on a motorcycle.

Narinder Pal Singh Ruby, DSP, Raikot, said two unidentified youths had ambushed the scooter-borne cashier and peon of the society on a kutcha road leading from Jalaldiwal to the main road at about 1.45 pm. They were armed with sharp-edged weapons.

However, the robbers failed in their sinister design as some farmers working in the field came to the rescue of the employees. “Had the villagers and farmers not reacted promptly, the robbers could have taken away the cash,” said the DSP.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the society employees had ignored the warnings of the police. “Though earlier they had been shifting cash in a car, accompanied by security personnel during transit, they did not follow the drill today,” said Ruby.

SP (D) Ashok Bath said special teams had been sent to the area in search of the culprits.

Meanwhile, teams led by Sukhdev Singh, SHO City, and Maghar Singh, SHO Sadar, laid nakas on roads leading towards Raikot. 

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Dhanwantri jayanti celebrated 
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
The birthday of Lord Dhanwantri, incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the originator of ayurveda, was celebrated in a colourful manner on the factory premises of an ayurvedic drug manufacturing company here yesterday.

The ritualistic programme was performed at Dhanwantri Temple with religious purification of the ceremony site and the incarnation of Lord Dhanwantri was celebrated.

The concluding ceremonies commenced with offering of prayers by 108 devoted families before basil (tulsi) plant with the musical recitation of "Sunder-kand" by Pandit Som Nath Sharma and ‘maha-aarti’ performed with 108 jyotis.

Dhanwantri Temple, situated inside the factory premises, remained open for all the four days of celebrations for the general public. Grand fireworks and bursting of crackers marked the end of the event.

The ceremony was attended by a large number of people from all walks of life besides ayurvedic practitioners from the city and surrounding areas. The special attraction of the programme was the presence of 20 devotees of ayurveda, who had specially come from Europe, under the leadership of Dr Anil Mehta, an NRI ayurvedic practitioner based in Holland, to be a part of the celebrations.

Meanwhile, Dhanwantri jayanti was celebrated at Guru Nanak Ayurvedic Medical College and Research Institute at Gopalpur, near Dehlon, today. Dr Balwinder Singh Walia, chairman, Dr R.P. Kaushal, principal of the college, along with staff, faculty members and students paid obeisance to the God of health on this occasion.

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Pilgrims leave for Haj 
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 12
Hundreds of Muslims, including men, women and children, from the area today left for New Dehli to take part in the annual Muslim pilgrimage, Haj in Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

In all 584 Muslims from across the state, including a minor child, got their documents prepared for the holy journey. It is for the first time for some decades that all applicants from the state, including Gujjars, were granted permission to take part in the pilgrimage.

While a majority of the pilgrims left by Dadar Express from the local railway station and the railway station at Malerkotla, other groups boarded Intercity Train at the Dhuri junction. There were still others who will be reporting at Haj House, Delhi, tomorrow. They will be going there by private vehicles.

A large number of Muslims from Dehli, Kanganwal, Jhuner, Akbarpur Chhanna and here gathered at the local railway station to extend a warm send-off to pilgrims.

Jaspal Singh Jassie, SDM, Malerkotla, said sufficient arrangements had been made for the vaccination of the pilgrims according to the norms laid down by the WHO. Besides administering polio vaccine to them, they were immunised for meningitis also.

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Stop privatisation of PSEB, say employees

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 12
The opening session of the annual delegate convention of The Employees Federation of Punjab State Electricity Board resolved to shun work on November 21 in case the state government did not stop process for privatisation of the board and review the Power Act.

Terming amendments in the rules and regulations of the PSEB as anti-employees and anti-consumers, various speakers at the session held at local Pohir Road claimed that the nation and the state would not succeed in undertaking sustained development unless human resources were utilised properly.

Phaljit Singh and Baljinder Singh, state president and general secretary, respectively, of the federation accused the state government of trying to disrupt viability of the board that had contributed a significant share in development of the area.

Referring to observations made by a study group of the federation, the leaders claimed that employees and consumers had suffered in those states where the power supplying bodies had been commercialised.

Demanding review of the Power Act 2003, Phaljit Singh announced that the union would launch agitation and struck work on November 21 in case the decisions were not re-considered. The agitation would be launched under the banner of the Joint Forum, said the president.

Baljinder Singh rued that the consumers and the employees would be the worst sufferers. He claimed that the role of the labour could not be undermined.

Karam Chand, former state president, Kamal, Jamal Singh Dhindsa, Jagdev Joga, Harish Chander Uttam, Rattan Lal and Kaur Singh also spoke.

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No sangat darshan today
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
Deputy commissioner Sumer Singh Gurjar cancelled the sangat darshan at the last minute today.

The visit of Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to the city at a function will keep the top officials busy and hence the district administration has decided to cancel the programme.

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Six ‘khoya’, milk cake samples found unfit
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 12
Five samples of ‘khoya’ and another of milk cake were declared unfit for human consumption by the government laboratory out of those taken by the field staff of the health department during the week preceding Diwali from sweet shops located in different parts of the city.

Giving this information, civil surgeon Dr Sat Pal Sharma said samples of ‘khoya’ which failed the test were taken from Dhodha Sweets, Ghumar Mandi, Khalsa Sweets, Chowk Division No 3, Gentleman Sweets, Partap Chowk, Sharma Sweets, Model Town and Aman Sweets, Salem Tabri.

The sample of milk cake which was found unfit for human consumption, came from out of seven quintals "barfi" and milk cake, seized by health officials during a raid on a synthetic ‘khoya’ making unit, New Goyal Sweets Suppliers in Grain Market on Gill Road, about a fortnight back.

According to Dr Sharma, cases were being lodged in the court of chief judicial magistrate here for proceedings under provisions of Prevention of Food Adulteration Act against those sweetmeat makers whose samples had failed the laboratory test.

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It is customers’ market in woollens
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
City markets are all geared up to welcome winter with a wide variety in woollen products to keep one warm. Despite the industry complaining of a decline in demand, the city continues to retain its reputation of offering good quality hosiery stuff at low rates and is attracting many buyers from other places as well.

As winter continues to be relatively shorter, retailers have begun adopting strategies to woo customers right from the beginning of the season. For consumers, the market not just offers wide variety but good bargains as well.

With leading brands, too, involved in the race, there is no dearth of latest designs in woollens-be it jackets, coats, cardigans, sweaters or other products.

"The city has quite a large variety in woollens this time. I am happy to see latest designs and in many cases they are offering discounts as well. My relatives from other cities have also asked me to buy sweaters and jackets for them and I have already started my winter shopping . Bargains are good. I have decided not to wait for the season to end to buy off-season stuff," said Shalini Sharma, a homemaker.

With the shortening duration of winter, business trends have changed as well. Unlike before when manufacturers used to get orders much in advance, now orders start pouring in relatively late.

"The beginning of the season was not so good as wholesalers prefer watching fashion trends before they place orders. However, the peak time for supplies and sales has begun and we are hoping for a good season ahead," said Sunil Dutt, a hosiery manufacturer.

Retailers said they did not want to take much risks due to declining demand, which is why they had already begun offering discounts. "Earlier discount sale was meant only for the end of the season. But now, we have to ensure that stocks are cleared for which attracting customers right from the beginning of the season is critical," said Ramesh Kumar, a retailer in Chaura Bazaar.

Residents are seizing the opportunity. "Export stuff is also available at low rates. Before it finishes, I am planning to make all my purchases," said Rajwinder Kaur, another resident.

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Awareness week at PNB
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 12
I.D. Singh, general manager, Punjab South Zone, Punjab National Bank (PNB), today administered pledge to all employees of the Integrated Zonal Office here for providing quick and better services to customers to ensure effective, transparent and customer-friendly functioning at various levels to mark the beginning of Vigilance Week celebrations by the bank here today.

The bank will observe the week till November 16. Addressing the employees, Singh said the awareness week was celebrated in the memory of Sardar Vallab Bhai Patel, the apostle of integrity, and the purpose behind its observance is to have a successful, systematic and focused campaign against corruption.

Ishar Singh, senior regional manager, and other senior officers of the bank were also present.

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