L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S

Suspended DFO sits on dharna
Union men raise slogans, demand his reinstatement
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
Suspended Divisional Forest Officer, Ludhiana, R.R. Kakkar, sat on a protest dharna along with several activists of forest unions, demanding strict action against the land mafia.

Activists of the Punjab Gazetted Forest Officers Union and Punjab Non-Gazetted Forest Officers Union criticised the state government for placing him under suspension, allegedly at the behest of a political party.

The activists raised slogans against a BJP leader and demanded reinstatement of the suspended official, failing which they threatened to intensify agitation.

Kakkar chose not to say anything. The activists said they would meet Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and demand reinstatement of the official.

They also said they would meet Forest Minister Tikshan Sood and ask him to take up the case at the right platform.

The activists warned the state government to revoke the suspension orders. They said they would sit on dharna outside the forest minister’s house in Hoshiarpur if this was not done.

On the other hand, Sukhminder Pal Singh Grewal, former president of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, who was booked in a case registered on the complaint of Kakkar, said the suspended official had no right to sit on dharna in the premises of the forest officer’s office.

“Kakkar is the president of the Punjab State Forest Officers Union. He is instigating the activists of this union to stage dharnas against the government,’’ he said.

He was being supported by Kulraj Singh, an office-bearer of the Forest Range Officers Union, whose wife was a member of the much controversial NGO, Sahayta.



School students taken ill
They ate fruit of wild plant
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 15
Timely help by villagers and the Dehlon police saved 10 students of Government Elementary School in Guram village, near here, who reportedly developed gastroenteritis after consuming leaves and fruit of a wild plant.

The victims are mostly from poor families. Three brothers, Lakhwinder (Class IV), Kulwinder (V) and Lakhvir (IV) are among the children taken ill after they ate the fruit of a wild plant a at a veterinary dispensary of the village.

The children started vomiting and contracted dysentery in the evening. A police team led by SHO Prem Singh shifted three children to Hind Hospital here. Others were provided medical assistance at hospitals in Dehlon village.

Dr Sunit Hind and Dr Gurjit Singh, attending the victims, said their condition was serious.

Gurpreet Kaur, a pharmacologist, identified the wild plant as lobelia, popularly known as Indian tobacco.



Cricket Tourney
Teachers facing parents’ pressure
Even politicians join in to get kids selected
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
It is not the peer pressure rather it is parents’ pressure which is causing trouble in the smooth conduct of the state inter-school cricket tournament in progress at Government Model Senior secondary School, PAU, here.

Due to high expectation of parents, not only the children but also the employees of education department are having sleepless night as their cellphones keeps on ringing day and night.

The parents, who eagerly want their wards to play in the team at any cost, are now camping at PAU School from morning till evening. Due to which there is constant pressure on the child who wants to perform as well.

As the political leaders have also jumped into the fray to recommend their near and dear ones, these things have become very intricate for the teachers.

All this is being done to get a certificate that is of utmost importance for seeking admission in various colleges under sports quota.

As most of the students are in the final year of their school, this certificate of state representation will be of great value for these player to take up admission in their preferred college.

An official in the district education department said, "You cannot imagine the kind of pressure I am facing right now. I have received endless calls in the past two three days from the parents. Though the senior officials are telling me to be judicious while selecting the team, it's the politicians who are making the matter difficult for us to handle."

Recently a spat between two parents took an ugly turn as both parties were influential and tried to pitch in political pressure making life difficult for government officials to organise cricket tournament.

Sources in the education department said the DEO constituted a five member committee to resolve the issue but the committee was unable to resolve it as both parents did not agree for settlement.

A coach, who did not want his name to be quoted, said, "I fail to understand what crime I have committed on being a cricket coach. From morning to evening, I receive call from the parents, saying their son should play in the team. The parents, who could not handle the bat properly, are now teaching me the rules of the game.

Sudesh Bajaj, DEO ( secondary) said, "I have given strict guidelines to the teachers concerned that the selection of a players should be on marit and my advice to such parents is that they should distance themselves from the playground and let the child perform without any pressure."

As the parents seem to turn a blind eye to the advise, there is more hardship in store for the organisers of the inter-school cricket tournament.



Maid's Death Post-mortem report inconclusive
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
The death of a 16-year-old maid yesterday remains a mystery with the postmortem report inconclusive. The report does not say if she was strangulated or if she hanged herself.

The police had registered a case of rape and murder against Kunal, a resident of Sarabha Nagar, under Sections 306 and 376, IPC, last evening.

The police has sent her viscera and vaginal swabs to the Patiala Forensic Science Laboratory. The girl was found dead in the bathroom of the second floor of the house in Sarabha Nagar where she worked as a domestic help.

Her relatives alleged rape or an attempt to rape, which they said had led to her death. SHO Navreet Singh said her employers had claimed that the girl was upset over a personal matter and had committed suicide.



Life term for murdering husband
Rajneesh Lakhanpal

Ludhiana, November 15
Sessions Judge G.K. Rai has sentenced Manjinder Kaur of Rurka village to life imprisonment on the charge of murdering her husband Harwinder Singh to be with her lover.

The incident took place in 2006. A case was registered on the complaint of the brother of the deceased.

The complainant had stated to the police that his brother had been keeping ill. On the fateful day, he along with another brother, Karamjit Singh, went to visit the deceased and were stunned to see their brother lying on the cot, being attacked by his wife.

The judge said the woman had denied killing her husband, but had failed to disclose how her husband had been injured.



Coal unloading halts for 15 hrs over wages
Shveta Pathak
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
Unloading of coal came to a halt at Dhandari Railway station for over 15 hours today as coal merchants alleged "blackmailing" at the hands of a "well-connected agent".

The traders alleged that he asked them to make direct payment of labourers' wages to him and threatened them and their labourers with dire consequences if they failed to do so.

Unloading could resume this afternoon only after intervention by Satpal Gosain, deputy speaker, Vidhan Sabha, who spoke to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on the matter. The traders said they would be forced to stop unloading completely if the matter was not resolved.

"Around a week ago, the person, supported by some 50-60 others, started stopping our workers. He wanted that we should make him the payment, which he would further pass on to the labourers. He had resorted to a similar blackmailing some 6 years ago also and this time threatened us and labour contractors with dire consequences if we did not function the way he wanted us to," said Rakesh Kumar of the Punjab Coal Merchants Association.

Hundreds of traders from across the state gathered in the city to protest against the matter.

"We apprised the police of the issue. Initially, they were dilly dallying and now they have assured us of an action. We are awaiting for an action to be taken in the matter," said Gosain.

Even temporary halt of loading and unloading caused heavy losses to those engaged in the trade. The city, as per estimates, consumes 20,000 tonnes of coal on a daily basis , which caters to brick kilns and industries like furnaces and rolling mills.

Traders said if the police did not take action, they would be forced to stop unloading completely. "We engage our labour directly and do not want any outside party to intervene in our smooth functioning. Such threats are harassing us and causing losses. If the matter is not resolved we would be forced to stop unloading ," added Kumar.



Hosiery traders send goods through rlys; evade tax
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 15
With winters knocking at the door, and the hosiery season being at its peak, the manufacturers and traders of hosiery goods and knitwear’s in the city are flocking more and more towards railway parcel service for transportation of their packages to different parts of the country.

And understandably so, because goods sent through passenger trains not only reach their destinations faster as compared to surface transport, but it is much easier to evade taxes as railways do not insist on invoices, or for that matter payment of VAT, CST or other taxes for the goods booked on parcel service.

After the state excise and taxation department tightened the noose on tax evaders, particularly in the hosiery and knitwear sector, most of the inter-state transportation of these goods shifted to railways for the simple reason that once the goods are booked with the railways, there is no scope for scrutiny by the state excise and taxation department.

Not only this, by sending their goods through railway, and no invoice accompanying the package, the manufacturers and traders do not run the risk of goods being detained at state barriers or charged with under-valuation of the goods, revealed a broker who manages booking of goods at railway station here.

Whereas it is mandatory that all goods booked through road transport be accompanied with invoice and proof of payment of taxes, there is no such provision for transport of goods through railways. An estimated 650 to 700 packages are booked at the railway parcel office here every day, bringing in a freight income of Rs 3 lakh. Both number of packages and the freight collection goes up a few times during the peak season for hosiery goods.

A senior railway official, requesting anonymity, told Ludhiana Tribune that as per the Indian Railways Act, the consignors (senders) are required to fill up a forwarding note in Form 3 and provide their Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) for booking of goods with the railway parcel service.

“We have no mechanism to ascertain whether the TIN number provided by the sender is correct or not. However, we do provide necessary information to excise and taxation department of the state when asked to do so,” added the official.

Senior Divisional Commercial Manager of Northern Railway Brajesh Dharmani, based at divisional headquarters at Ferozepur, also confirmed that there was no provision in the Railway Act to ask for an invoice of the goods being booked with parcel service and a Performa (Form 3) is the only requirement for this purpose.

After the state excise and taxation department tightened the noose on tax evaders, particularly in the hosiery and knitwear sector, most of the inter-state transportation of these goods shifted to railways for the simple reason that once the goods are booked with the railways, there is no scope for scrutiny by the state excise and taxation department.



We will oppose nuclear deal: Bardhan
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
General secretary of the Communist Party of India A.B. Bardhan said today that they would oppose the US nuclear deal tooth and nail and would not allow it to become operational at any cost.

Bardhan came out strongly against the nuclear deal at the Ludhiana Railway Station after he alighted from the Delhi-Amritsar Shatabdi Express. He was on way to Moga to attend a rally organised by the CPI there.

“Meeting the Prime Minister at lunch or dinner does not mean we will change our stand. It is in accordance with the basic principle of the Left that we oppose a similar deal,” he said, adding that these meetings were a part of democratic process and his party was not opposed to the government. It was just a matter of nuclear issue where they could not agree.

During his 2-minute talk with the mediapersons, Bardhan supported the stand of the West Bengal government on Nandigram issue in restoring the law and order situation in the state.

Criticising the “anti-Left” parties, including “the Congress and the Trinamool Congress” for creating such disturbances in the area, Bardhan said these were mean political motives and all parties should avoid indulgence in such politics.

“Though all major issues had been resolved in that part a year ago, these forces did not want the issue to die down. All schools were closed, hospitals were closed during all these months. As many as 3,500 people were displaced in Nandigram and they were not being rehabilitated. What else would have happened?” he asked.



Fresh voter cards to be made tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
To make the fresh voter identity cards and to revise the electoral rolls, the district administration has announced its summary revision plan. A special campaign will be launched on November 17 and 18 at all polling stations in the district.

Labh Singh, tehsildar, elections, said the special drive would be launched so that necessary corrections in voter lists and fresh identity cards could be made. He said the period for fulfilling claims and objections, which started on November 12, would be continued till November 28. The process of disposal of claims and objections be completed by December 4, 2007.

Labh Singh also added that designated officers could be contacted at the booths where forms would also be available to the public. For new voter identity cards (18 years as on January 1, 2008), two photographs, along with 001A Form would be required. The whole exercise would be conducted under the supervision of electoral registration officer (ERO), he said, adding that the booths would be set up at all 1957 polling stations in the district.



Curb activities of tantriks: Society
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, November 15
Accusing the state government of ignoring the directions of the union home ministry and the Supreme Court regarding safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens, the Tarksheel Society, Punjab, has threatened to launch a movement if the orders were not implemented in letter and in spirit.

In a communication sent to the union home ministry, the office-bearers of the society alleged that the state government had failed to implement the provisions of various orders passed by the ministry and the apex court at various times.

According to Harbhajan Singh, zonal president of the society, the state government had failed to check the “illegal and unscientific activities” of thousands of tantriks who had been exploiting innocent people for years.

The society also demanded a ban on misleading advertisements and claims by tantriks and organisers of various deras.



Double-meaning songs irk Channi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
Irked with double meaning liners in Punjabi songs, Channi Singh, renowned Punjabi singer, feels such songs should be checked.

"They are against our culture and do nothing but tarnish our image," said the singer who shot to fame through his song “Bhabiye ni bhabiye”. He, who was in the city to attend a wedding, is now based in London.

He said music of any place was its mirror and any artiste who undertakes the responsibility to project his culture via this medium should not be careful in his selection of music.

Channi, who is also getting active in projects in India, said he has lent music to Anupam Kher starrer comedy 'Mr Bhatti on Chhutti'. Among his recent projects are music for 'Distant Mirage', an English film.

Having gained wide exposure, Channi said earlier he felt that artistes in the UK were more professional. "But these days, the younger lot in particular in India are quite professional and coming out with international quality stuff," he opined.




Glaring mistake

It is brought to your notice that the surname of honourable minister of jails tourism and cultural affairs is badly mis-spelt in the Ludhiana Tribune of today edition.

It is painful to the readers and well-wishers of the minister. It speaks low of the efficiency of the staff and the person directly concerned with this news.

The newspaper is having maximum circulation and is extensively read. Such mistakes will have bad effect on its circulation. This mistake should be immediately corrected by tendering apology from the honourable minister H.S. Gabria.

Maj Sher Singh Aulakh (retd)

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.



Biz Word
Insurance firm to open more offices
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 15
Private life insurance player Max New York Life Insurance will soon increase the number of its offices to 300 from the existing 175 across the country. The company has aggressive expansion plans in Punjab, which will also generate heavy employment, said Vikram Shivpuri, regional manager, Max New York Life insurance Company, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune here yesterday.

Shivpuri, who launched Smart Invest Pension, a unit-linked pension plan by the company, said today that Max had 1,500 agents in Punjab and, by opening more offices, this number would rise. Max is particularly buoyant on rural areas which have a high growth potential, he added.

“Investors in rural areas in the state are not only keen on investing; they are also keen to know about the latest financial products. This speaks of the high potential that rural markets hold and it is a positive signal for insurance players,” he said.

Giving details of the new plan, he explained that Smart Invest Pension was a unit-linked plan that enabled customers to enter at a lower premium and subsequently keep increasing the premium by 5 per cent (of the initial premium) every year over the policy term.” This ensures that the customer is able to start retirement planning early and reach retirement goals in a smoother way, based on life stages and income.”



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