L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Now, Dera Bhaini Sahib cashier goes missing
On March 12, another worker was shot by unknown assailants
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
While the March-12 broad daylight killing of Dera Bhaini Sahib worker Avtar Singh Bhaini still remains a mystery, the alleged kidnapping of a cashier has ruffled the police department. The cashier, Dilbag Singh (30), has been reported missing since July 13.

According to the victim’s father Gurnam Singh, his son had left the house on a motorcycle on the morning of July 13. Before leaving, Dilbag had told his wife that he was going to Doraha. However, he failed to return home.

His mobile phone remained switched off and his motorcycle was recovered from Katani Kalan village a few days ago, said Gurnam Singh.

The victim had been working as a cashier in the dera for the past five years. Initially, the family members did not inform the police and continued to search for Dilbag, but after their attempts failed, they informed the police about his mysterious disappearance.

Dilbag’s family members feared for their son’s life, but they claimed their son did not have personal enmity with anyone. Dilbag has three children — a boy and two girls.

After failing to locate Dilbag Singh, the Sahnewal police has registered a case of kidnapping against unidentified persons and started its investigation.

According to the mobile tower location procured by the police, Dilbag was at the dera during the day on July 13. Around 8 pm, he had gone to Katani Kalan village, according to the tower location records. His phone has remained unreachable ever since and there is no further record of Dilbag’s location.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Balraj Singh Gill said the matter was being investigated. He refused to comment on the issue.

Motorbike found from same spot

n The motorcycle belonging to Dilbag was found near the place where Avtar Singh was killed five months ago. Avtar was killed by two motorcycle-borne unidentified gunmen who sprayed bullets at the former while seated in a car soonafter he visited a house in Katani Kalan


CM’s horses win race for treatment
Get preference over other animals at GADVASU hospital
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
After his horse, it is now the turn of the Chief Minister's mare and her foal to receive VVIP treatment at the local veterinary hospital of Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU).

A battery of veterinary doctors has been deputed for their treatment at the gynaecology emergency room in GADVASU's veterinary hospital which has been converted into a makeshift special room
for the mare named Umer and her foal.

On June 27, the CM's seven-year-old horse named, King of Rings, was admitted to the same hospital due to high fever owing to a tick-borne protozoan blood infection.

The room, in which Umer and her foal are admitted, has been carpeted with a thick layer of grass and two attendants from Badal's stud farm have been posted round-the-clock outside the special room to take care of the mare and her foal. Last time also, it was the same story, when seven attendants had brought King of Rings, an Irish Tinker breed, to the GADVASU hospital.

Doctors at GADVASU refused to give any information about either the disease or the treatment being given to the mare and her foal. "We have been directed not to comment over this issue. Only senior GADVASU officials can comment on it," said a doctor attending the foal and the mare.

But the attendants, who are Marwaris, said Umer and her foal were brought to GADVASU last evening. "Umer is suffering from an infection where blood is coming in its urine, while the foal is having loose motions. That is why, we have brought both of them here," said a caretaker, who did not wish to identify himself. Most of the caretakers at the CM's stud farm are Marwaris and all of them wear a uniform, which is Khaki in colour. One Surjit Singh, who had come to the hospital for the treatment of his buffalo, rued that while their animals were made to wait in the sun, it was sad that the CMs horse was getting VIP treatment.



It was a horrifying experience: Doc
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
After becoming a victim of car snatching, Dr Ramandeep Kaur, a radiologist at Civil Hospital, Samrala, is yet to come to terms with this shocking incident.

The doctor, who was on her way to Samrala from Ludhiana on Sunday night, said three unidentified persons had stopped her car at gun-point, snatched her gold chain along with the car keys and forcibly taken away the car.

Talking to Ludhiana Tribune, Dr Kaur said, "It was around 9:30 pm on Sunday when I was headed for Samrala along with my kids. As I crossed Kohara, I got a call from Dr Rashmi, a friend on my cell phone. Taking it to be an emergency call, I started talking to her and slowed down my car. As I reached near village Chak Sarwan Nath, a white Hyundai Verna car stopped in front of my car and three unidentified persons came out. They took out their pistols and asked me to come out of my car. I told them that I was a doctor and was travelling with my kids to home at Samrala.”

Paying no heed to this, one of them said,"It seems you will come out only after getting a bullet. Following this, my kids felt panicky and asked me to follow their instructions. We came out of the car. First, they snatched my gold chain and then my purse which contained many important documents like Visa card, PAN card etc along with cash etc. I again requested them to take away the cash but return my documents, but they did not. Even they took away my mobile phone."

Horrified with the incident, Dr Ramandeep said,"Within no time, two of them reversed my car and fled away. While the third drove away in their own car. The whole incident was so shocking that I failed to understand as what should I do. Suddenly my elder son had his cell phone in his pocket and I informed Ludhiana police control room along with my husband Dr Tarakjit Singh. But the police reached very late and my husband reached there earlier. I even told the police that my car could go only up to 30 km as it had very less diesel." I am yet to get back to my job as I am stunned with all this, said the radiologist.



Majithia’s ‘lapse’ leaves martyrs’ kin peeved
Say the politician didn’t ‘pay tributes’ at statues near roadshow venue
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
During his “roadshow” in the city on Monday, Youth Akali Dal chief Bikram Singh Majithia was too busy meeting party workers to bother to pay tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, whose statues were only a few yards from where his vehicle stopped. This has left the martyrs’ family members as well as the locals fuming.

“Those who had organized the function on the Jagraon Bridge should have kept in mind the fact that these martyrs had laid down their lives for our country and politicians are bound to show respect to them”, said some city residents.

Bharat Bhushan Thapar, nephew of the martyr Sukhdev, remarked: “I was really hurt when I came to know about this incident. On one side the state government organizes sports events in the memory of martyrs while on the other it neglects to honour the memory of martyrs. No wonder youngsters know virtually nothing about the martyrs”.

He said politicians turn up at statues erected in the memory of martyrs only at the time of functions. "And that time also it's just like a photo session, which needs to be checked. I came to know Majithia's entourage stayed on Jagraon bridge for about ten minutes and the martyrs’ statues were only a few yards away. He should have showed some respect," Thapar added.

Jagdev Singh Jassowal, president of the Bhagat Yaadgar Society, said: “Such politicians aren’t fit to lead our youth. Had he gone up to the martyrs’ statues youngsters would have followed him. It's sad such kind of people are 'leading' the state's youth. Instead of arranging elephants the event organizers should’ve decorated the area where the statues stand and requested Majithia to pay his tribute there”.

Said Ishwarjot Singh Cheema, a local: “If the state government can’t show respect towards martyrs they have no right to organize functions in their memories”.

A non-issue, says Majithia

Youth Akali Dal chief Bikram Singh Majithia said: “If someone is raising such issues, he’s trying to make an issue out of a non-issue. I have full respect for these martyrs. People jealous of the success of our roadshows are now raising such issues. Considering that I visited Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, it is not right to say that I have no regard for martyrs.”



Paraplegic boy beats all odds to excel in studies
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune News Service

Aalamjot being taken to his class by a classmate at Nankana Sahib Public School.
Aalamjot being taken to his class by a classmate at Nankana Sahib Public School. Photo: Inderjeet Verma

Ludhiana, July 19
Natures' fury coupled with human negligence resulted in Alamjot Singh’s lower limbs being partially paralyzed, confining him to a wheelchair for life. However, these handicaps did not dent his determination to rise up in life, which is why he has been distinguished himself in all aspects of school life other than outdoor games.

A class 11 student of Nankana Sahib Public School, Gill Road, Alamjot has had an excellent academic career despite his disability. School principal Harmeet Kaur Waraich told The Tribune: "He achieved a CGPA (cumulative grade point average) of 8.2 in the CBSE class 10 exam and now aspires to be a computer engineer. He’s indeed an outstanding student." Alamjot has opted for the nonmedical subjects as he wants to be an engineer. Pushing his wheelchair towards his classroom, he said: "I also attend tuitions for three hours a day in addition to my regular school studies. I love to study chemistry and informatics practices."

Has he ever thought of his handicap? "No," he replies. “I get lot of love and affection in the school. Although I cannot play outdoor games, yet my friends take me to play ground and I feel elated after watching them playing”.

Fond of reading autobiographies and story books, Alam also loves to make paintings. One can guess his dedication from the very incident when he was under treatment in an ICU at the Teg Bahadur Hospital. Said Waraich: "He was in class 8 when he suffered from an acute stomach infection. It was May and the school exams were going on. We told him we’d evaluate him on the basis of his previous marks. But he asked his parents to arrange the question paper in the ICU itself, where he could take his exam”.

Alamjot’s mother, Gurpreet Kaur, is a housewife and he has a younger brother. “We’re grateful to the school for giving him the facility of full fee concession as my husband's earning was not enough to educate him properly. The school has been paying all the expenses of his studies. We hope one day Alamjot will bring laurels to all of us." 



Deputy CM’s announcement may remain on paper
Declaration to open expressway by October 1 may not be fulfilled as work is proceeding at snail’s pace
Puneet Pal Singh Gill
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal’s announcement that the expressway along Sidhwan Canal would be ready by October 1 may just remain an announcement, as it will take long for the project to be completed.

With the paddy season on, the irrigation department had released water in the canal, resulting in stoppage of construction work at some places, where pillars for bridges are yet to be constructed.

Near the Gill road bridge on the canal, iron bars, on which a portion of the expressway would be constructed, standing in almost middle of the canal are full of water. City architects have rued that if an iron bar stays in flowing water for a long time, it would lead to rusting of the iron bars, thus resulting in decrease in its life.

But public works department (PWD) officials claim that the life of iron bars would not be affected.

Though most of the pillars have been completed, the pillars near the Gill road bridge on Sidhwan Canal were left incomplete due to slow pace of work.

“A few days back, the irrigation department released water in the canal for paddy. So the incomplete pillars, with just a frame consisting iron bars, are now standing in the middle of the canal. The water is passing through them all the time, which would lead to rusting, thus resulting in reduction in life of that particular pillar. All this has happened just because of slow pace of work,” alleged Kuldip Singh Khaira, an area resident and RTI activist.

Angrej Singh, executive engineer of PWD, claimed that the foundation of these particular pillars has already been constructed. “While we were about to finish these pillars, water was released in the canal and thus we had to stop our work. But I can assure that it would not lead to any problem and the project would be completed soon,” claimed XEN Angrej Singh.

But this shows lack of coordination between both government departments as the PWD failed to complete the construction of pillars near the Gill road in a stipulated period of time, because whenever water is released in the canal, the department concerned gives prior information.

A leading city-based architect, Sanjay Goel informed that whenever the iron bars stay in water for a long time, they get rusted. “And rust certainly takes toll on the quality and strength of the bars.”

A review meeting for this Rs 416 crore project was also held in Chandigarh yesterday, which was presided by Sukhbir Singh Badal. The Deputy CM announced that the industrial city would get some relief from chronic traffic snarls, as left hand side of Sidhwan Canal project right from Ludhiana to Ferozepur Road would be opened to traffic on October 1.



Ad hoc lecturers denied UGC-recomended salaries
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
The “strict” letters issued by Panjab University, Chandigarh, to its affiliated colleges on providing UGC recommended salaries to ad hoc lecturers and guest faculties seem to have no impact on government and college managements, as barring a few, none of the colleges have provided UGC grades to these lecturers serving in colleges for the past six-seven years.

Though PU had, in its letter issued on September 10, 2010, asked all colleges to send the certification letter that they were adhering to the UGC norms and were providing full grades as recommended in the UGC guidelines, most of the colleges not even bothered to intimate PU about it.

Not just that, both government and private managements continue to “exploit” these lecturers by paying the salary as low as Rs 7,000 a month.

As per the letter by PU, “The Vice-Chancellor has passed orders that principal of the college should certify that the college will pay salary as per the UGC norms to NET cleared teachers and Rs 25,800 to those where NET candidates are not available.”

Sources at PU reveal that barring a few, none of the colleges sent the required certificate to the authorities. “Some of the managements sent certificates hiding facts,” said an official on the condition of anonymity.

Perturbed over “callous” attitude adopted by PU, ad hoc lecturers and guest faculty said in the absence of strict action being taken against defaulters, the exploitation of lecturers continued.

Manjinder Sood, teaching geography at SCD Government College for the past six years, said nobody tried to listen to their grievances.

“We met the education minister, who gave assurance to regularise us, but to no avail. I am being paid Rs 7,000 a month, at the same time. I have been asked to take four periods a day (as per regular teachers)”, rued Sood.

Another guest faculty lecturer, Narpinder Singh Nakra said the salary of guest faculty was like peanuts. “As per the UGC norms, we are taking

24 periods per week but when salary issue is raised, we are told we could not get more than that. This is disgusting, we cannot run the house in such low salaries,” he said.

It may be mentioned that in the absence of strict actions against defaulting college managements, the “exploitation” of lecturers continued. About 75 such lecturers are serving in both government and private colleges in the city.



Left parties slam Centre for price rise, corruption
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July19
Activists of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) today held a protest dharna at Mini-Secretariat here against the union government to check rising prices of essential commodities.

They demanded a rollback in the prices of diesel, petrol, kerosene and LPG. They also sought curbing the menace of black money and rampant corruption.

Slamming the “anti-people policies” of the government, speakers at the rally said criminal elements were ruling the roost in all walks of life while the use of money and muscle power had taken the politics to its ebb with the result that values in society were constantly under erosion.

Leaders of Left parties asserted that policies of liberalisation with boost to the corporate sector and opening up of the FDI in various sectors had added to this scenario, creating a consumerist culture. "Under the very nose of the government, mafia groups, including land mafia, drug mafia and others, were gaining strength. Nexus between a section of politicians, bureaucracy and criminals had added to the woes of the common man."

Charging the government with failure to tackle the menace of black money, the two parties said reports of huge amounts of black money of some people of the country in foreign banks were very serious. However, the government had not taken these developments seriously. Demanding immediate steps to bring back black money from foreign banks, they urged the government to set up the institution of Lok Pal, and bring all persons under its purview irrespective of the position held by them.

Attributing spiralling prices of food and other essential items to hoarding and black marketing, the functionaries of CPI and CPM called for immediate and stern action against the hoarders and black marketers while also scrapping forward trading to control prices. "The communist parties have suggested time and again to the government to create a reserve fund to check rise in prices of diesel, petrol, LPG and kerosene, but the government has not taken any notice of this. Instead they are out to please the oil companies by giving them free hand to fix prices of these items by complete decontrol."



Cancer patient awaits relief fund
His wife applied for the same in the first week of June, but is still awaiting help
Anupam Bhagria
Tribune News Service

Gurdeep KaurLudhiana, July 19
Gurdeep Kaur, wife of Harjinder Singh, who is suffering from throat cancer, has been running from pillar to post to get cancer relief fund for her husband, which was announced by health and family welfare minister Satpal Gosain on May 29.

She applied for the same in the first week of June, but yet waiting for the money eagerly.

Gurdeep said, “My husband has been suffering from throat cancer for one-and-half year. We are poor. I have spent Rs 2 lakh on my husband’s treatment, which I borrowed from my relatives. Seeing no way out, we have also pledged our house for his treatment. He shows some signs of recovery now, but I am facing financial problem. I applied for the cancer relief fund at the Civil Hospital in the first week of June. Since then, I have inquired from staff concerned five times about same, but got the same answer that it is government's work, which will take time.”

With tearful eyes, Gurdeep said, “I earn livelihood by doing embroidery on sweaters, etc. But it has become difficult for me to make both ends meet. I appeal to the public in general to help me in this hour of crisis, so that I may continue the treatment of my husband. Anyone willing to donate can contact me at 98762 91202.”



Land grab allegations may backfire on NRI
Sabha plans action if charges against nephews are found false
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
Two days after an NRI, Mewa Singh, levelled allegations that the police at the behest of his two nephews was planning to falsely implicate him in a criminal case, the latter retaliated by claiming that the NRI was a chronic complainant and wanted to usurp their property by taking the help of the NRI Sabha.

Following the development, the NRI Sabha has convened a meeting and if the allegations of the NRI are found false, his sabha membership will be cancelled and he will be proceeded against under the law.

Former sarpanch Kuldeep Singh claimed that Mewa’s nephews — Palwinder Singh and Gurinder Singh — had never tried to usurp his piece of land. Also, he had never planned to implicate Mewa in a false case, Kuldeep added.

He claimed that Mewa was levelling false allegations against them. “I never told him that Palwinder was trying to implicate him in a false case. Mewa is concocting stories,” said Kuldeep.

“He has made money while living in the US and now thinks we are his servants. He has been flaunting the special privilege given to the NRIs and wanting to terrorise innocent residents by unnecessarily calling the police. If we had to usurp his land, we could have done that long ago when his was in the US. He has disappointed us by levelling false allegations,” said Palwinder.

Mewa Singh (56), a resident of California, US, had stated that he was locked in a house and threatened by his nephews.

SHO Gopal Krishan stated that the matter was resolved amicably in the presence of residents of Bains village and members of the NRI Sabha.

In the meantime, Col RS Sohi, secretary-general, NRI Sabha, said: “This is a serious matter if the NRI has levelled false allegations. I have convened a meeting and will take further action after listening to both sides.”



DC marks inquiry into ‘misuse’ of community centre
BRS Nagar (East) Welfare Society accused of using facility as marriage palace
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 19
Throwing norms and constitution of the registered society to the winds, and ignoring protests of area residents, the ruling group of the BRS Nagar (East) Welfare Society has converted the community centre into a marriage palace.

The community centre was meant for holding functions by area residents and its construction was carried out with the help of government grants, totalling Rs 70 lakh, over the past few years.

Responding to a memorandum submitted by colony residents, demanding a probe into the arbitrary and unconstitutional act of the ruling group as well as financial irregularities, Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari has marked an inquiry to the SDM (West).

In their complaint, several residents, including a former president and some other former office-bearers of the welfare society, have alleged that no election of the society had been held for the past seven years. “The last elections were held in 2004 and the term of office was two years,” they asserted in the complaint.

They further maintained that a memorandum signed by 64 members of the general house of the society had requisitioned a general body meeting to discuss and sort out all issues, but the ruling group failed to convene any meeting.

According to the complaint, a public notice was inserted in newspapers on June 23 by the office-bearers stating that all members of the society who had not cleared their dues of membership fee had “ceased” to be the members of the general house, and hence not eligible to vote or contest elections. Charging the present office-bearers with attempting to grab the community centre, they further said the place was being “misused” as a marriage palace and the signboard outside the building had “Lee Satkar Palace” painted on it.

Welfare society president BS Bijan, however, refuted the allegations. He said the community centre was available to all bonafide residents for holding family functions.

“Lee Satkar Palace is just a name given to the community centre as per a decision of the society, and it is absolutely wrong to say that it is being used as a marriage palace.”

He asserted that the office-bearers were acting as per the constitution of the society. “We have already announced (on June 12) elections to the general body, which are going to be held on July 21. All bonafide residents can take part in the elections after clearing their dues as provided in the constitution,” he added.



Confusion over new VAT return forms
Industry, taxation dept take conflicting stance on recent CM orders'
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, July 19
Confusion surrounds the new value added tax (VAT) return forms 23 and 24, with the trade and industry here claiming that the government had withdrawn the new forms under pressure from various quarters, while the department still maintaining they have not received any fresh instruction on this issue.

The department officials say no new notification has been issued on the acceptance of VAT returns in old forms either.

Badish K Jindal, president, Federation of Punjab Small Industries Association of India, who along with other representatives of several trade and industrial bodies had led an agitation under the banner of All-Industry and Trade Forum against the introduction of new VAT return forms 23 and 24 here, claimed that the proposed amendment to these forms had been deferred indefinitely.

He said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh had personally intervened to provide relief to the trade and industry, which had not only offered stiff resistance to the move, but had also announced its refusal to file return in new forms.

However, excise and taxation department officials maintained that the decision to defer amended forms and accept returns in the old VAT return forms had not been conveyed to them so far.

“There is no fresh circular or notification, and as things stand, the VAT returns have to be filed in new forms 23 and 24. We cannot go by press reports alone and accept returns filed through old forms. As and when any new decision is conveyed to us on this subject, it will be implemented,” said an official of the department.

Members of taxation bar here were of the view that the decision taken at a meeting of representatives of trade and industry with the Chief Minister last evening would take some time to be translated into action.

Since the date for filing VAT returns has already been extended by the government by 15 days, the registered dealers can afford to wait for a few more days before they file their returns.

Taxation Young Lawyers Association president Jatinder Khurana said if the new VAT return had been put on hold, the decision ought to be conveyed to the department in a proper manner soon. 



Rescue was hard, bidding adieu even harder
Saviour of 10-month-old girl faces procedural hassles; orphanage given custody
Mohit Khanna
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
If rescuing a 10-month-old girl from the clutches of a drunkard was a difficult task, the procedural hassles of handing over the child to the orphanage authorities were no less tedious.

Rajpal Bagga, the rescuer of the child, was made to shuttle from one place to another for completing the formalities.

Oblivious to the development, the girl kept crying profusely while she was being ferried from place to another.

A day after The Tribune highlighted the tragic story of the child, who was rescued by a good Samaritan, Rajpal Bagga, from the clutches of a drunkard, a couple approached the police claiming to be the biological parents of the child. However, the police refused to hand over the child to them and asked them to provide a proof.

In the absence of a substantial proof, the child was handed over to the volunteers of Talwandi Dham.

Following the publishing of the news today, a migrant couple approached the police claiming that the missing child was their daughter.

Manoj Yadav from Bihar approached the police here this morning and claimed that he was the father of the child.

Soon, assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Harbans Singh, in-charge, Kitchlu Nagar police post, established contact with the Bagga family. Soon after, Rajpal and Satpal Bagga reached the division No 5 police station.

However, the day turned out to be a harrowing one for the Bagga brothers. On reaching the police station, Manoj Yadav stated that the girl’s name was Priyanka.

The couple claimed that on the morning of July 16, they had arrived at the Ludhiana railway station in pursuit of a job. While looking for food, the couple along with their child reached Durga Mata Temple, near Jagraon bridge.

While they were busy eating food, someone took away their child, they claimed.

However, the couple failed to produce any substantial evidence to prove that the child was theirs.

ASI Harbans Singh said in the absence of any concrete evidence, the police could not hand over the child to the couple.

Sources said the police was planning to conduct the DNA test to establish their claim.

Later in the day, the child was produced in front of the SDM and was further handed over to the volunteers of Talwandi Dham.

It was an emotional and exhaustive adieu for the Bagga family. The child had become part of the family, they said.

“I could not eat food since morning. We met the family who claimed to be the parents but they could not provide sufficient proof. Then we had to appear before the SDM and it was in the evening that the child was handed over the authorities of Talwandi Dham,” said Rajpal Bagga. 



Abandoned newborn joins rescued girl
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 19
While one girl was rescued from the clutches of a drunkard, another was abandoned at an orphanage located in Sarabha Nagar.

Barely a year after its inauguration, the Red Cross Panghura Project, a brainchild of Deputy Commissioner Rahul Tiwari, has become a permanent address for abandoned newborns.

Even since its launch in September, Panghura has received seven newborns, including five girls and two boys.

Yesterday, Panghura received yet another visitor. The girl child was abandoned at Panghura located in Red Cross Bhawan in Sarabha Nagar.

According to AK Sharma, coordinator of the Panghura project, the girl was handed over to the authorities of Talwandi Dham, another orphanage.

The volunteers of Talwandi Dham, Jasbir Kaur, Kuldeep Singh Man and a school principal Ramanjot Kaur, took the child in their custody.



Customs delays hit local industry hard
Export & import consignments held up due to shortage of staff
Shivani Bhakoo
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July18
Industrialists in the city are incurring huge losses due to interminable delays in import and export clearance, which have resulted because of a staff crunch in the customs department. With shipments getting held up for the past one month, they have not been able to claim duty drawbacks on time.

According to sources, about 100 containers of manufactured goods meant for export and 150 containers of imported goods are cleared every day at the container freight stations in the district. However, work has been significantly affected due to a manpower shortage, partly resulting from the recent transfers within the customs department, the work was being suffered.

Engineering Export Promotion Council regional chairman SC Ralhan said local industrialists were facing a lot of problems due to what he called the “delaying tactics” adopted by custom officials. "This month the duty drawback, which we get after a week, hasn’t been cleared, though a small amount was recently cleared by the customs department. We were told the new customs staff posted in the city were experiencing some initial hiccups and the issues would be sorted out after two or three days", he added.

Local industrialists held an interaction with customs commissioner Ranjit Singh who reportedly came to the city from Amritsar to listen to their grievances. The industrialists later said Singh admitted the customs department was facing a staff-crunch due to which export and import consignments were getting delayed. "However, he assured us one or two customs superintendents and assistant commissioners would be posted at Ludhiana to streamline the process”, they added.

As the city happens to be Punjab’s prime industrial hub in state, unnecessary delays in customs clearance could hit business hard.



District Scan
Awareness campaign

Life Insurance Corporation of India, Ludhiana division, is running the information system security awareness fortnight from July 16 to 31. This is a novel initiative of the IT department of the division with the objective to make LIC employees aware about cyber crime, cyber laws and information system security policy of the LIC. The activities being taken up under the drive include town hall presentations, special training to programmers of branches, special training to employees, display of posters, distribution of related literature, essay writing and quiz competition on security topics, security tips to users through website, e-mails and SMS and release of special issue of “IT Times”, an in-house bulletin of the IT department. — OC

Cong flays Akali Dal leaders

District Congress Committee president Pawan Dewan on Tuesday condemned the Youth Akali Dal for holding the city to ransom yesterday. He said the party had become like a private limited company where everything was being distributed within family members. Addressing a meeting at Sardar Nagar, Ward 22, Dewan said the Akalis were desperate and panicky about the popularity of the Congress in the state under the leadership of PCC president Capt Amarinder Singh. He said now they were resorting to desperate means of blocking the roads to create an impression as if they enjoyed public support. The DCC president said people got fed up with the Akali-BJP alliance government and they were waiting to throw them out. — OC


The Punjabi Sahit Academy will confer its fellowship upon acclaimed novelist and a former president of the academy Dalip Kaur Tiwana at a function organised at the Punjabi Bhawan here on July 31. The function will coincide with the executive committee meeting at 9 am followed by annual session at 10 m on the same day. — TNS



Fight for supremacy turns violent
Unidentified youths fire shots in air outside college gate
Jaswant Shetra

Jagraon, July 19
The fight for supremacy among different groups of youths, supporting a faction of students, took an ugly turn when a group of some unidentified youngsters allegedly fired shots in the air at the main gate of Sanmati Government Science and Research College, Jagraon, last evening.

The youths, who were carrying guns and other sharp-edged weapons, also pasted a poster on the wall of the college gate, declaring a youth named Khushpreet Singh as president of the college. Apparently challenging the rival groups, these youths have even written a mobile number on the poster, which further reads “anyone having objection on the election of Khushpreet Singh as president of this college may contact on this mobile number.”

Due to the firing incident, students present at the time of the incident got terrified. Besides, panic also prevailed among residents of the localities surrounding the college.

Meanwhile, college director Jaswinder Singh Brar, along with other faculty members of the college visited the SSP today and submitted a written complaint about the incident. “We have submitted a complaint to the police. A police team also visited the college to investigate the matter,” said Brar.

He also claimed that Khushpreet Singh, who declared himself as college president, is not even the student of the college. “We have checked the record of the college and found that Khushpreet Singh is not a student of our college,” he added.

The police, on the other hand, has not registered any case so far. When contacted, investigating official ASI Satpal Singh said, “We have not registered a case as we have received no complaint so far in this regard. Though we are monitoring the whole matter and if someone comes with a complaint, we will also register a case and take an appropriate action.”

When contacted, SHO city Gurpreet Singh said, “We have identified one youth, Khushpreet Singh of Agwara Lopo locality, who was involved in the incident by tracing his mobile number.” When asked about the car used by the youths during the incident, he said, “We have also traced the owner of the car on the basis of car number (PB-25D-0156) provided by some eyewitnesses. He is identified as Ramandeep Singh of Cheema village.” He further said both youths had admitted that they had pasted the poster on the college gate but have denied the firing incident.



NSPS spikers claim title
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, July 19
The girls of Nankana Sahib Public School, Gill Road branch, brought laurels to their school by winning the Zonal Volleyball Meet (u-19) organised by the Punjab Education Department, DAV Public School, BRS Nagar, here today.

Teams from schools across the district competed in the meet. Nankana Sahib Public School girls proved too good for their opponents as they emerged champions.

In the final, NSPS got the better of Government Senior Secondary School, Bharat Nagar Chowk branch, to fetch the top honours.

Principal, Harmeet Kaur Waraich congratulated the girls and their in-charge on the achievement.



Hockey tourney deferred
Our Sports Reporter

Ludhiana, July 19
The annual Ludhiana District Hockey Tournament scheduled to be organised by the District Hockey Association (DHA), Ludhiana, at the Punjab Agricultural University grounds from July 20 to 22 has been postponed. Matches in the under-14, 17 and 19 years were to be conducted in the boy’s section besides in the under-19 years (girls’) section during this this tournament.

According to Ajay Pal Singh Roomi, secretary, DHA, the postponement has been necessitated following the inclement weather, relaying of AstroTurf at the Prithipal Singh Memorial Stadium of PAU and ongoing examination in some schools. Meanwhile, former olympian Hardeep Singh Grewal and DHA treasurer Jagbir Singh Grewal said the tournament would now be held at AstroTurf stadium of Bhaini Sahib in the last week of this month. 



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