Desi Talk - page 10

– that’s all you need to know
By Sunthar Visuvalingam
evon Avenue, known
also as Little India for the
numerous Indian and
South Asian businesses
concentrated on the
street, completed the first phase
of its streetscape project. This was
marked by a ribbon-cutting cere-
mony attended by Chicago Mayor
Rahm Emanuel who joined 50th
Ward Alderman Debra Silverstein
and members of the South Asian
community Dec. 18. The open-air
ceremony took place at the south-
east corner of Devon and
Richmond beside The Music
House opposite the F.R.E.E.
The streetscape is an ambi-
tious, multi-million dollar project
that is expected to revitalize and
bring about a “sweeping transfor-
mation” of more than a mile of
Devon Avenue’s densest business
district, a press release from the
Alderman’s office said.
The sidewalks were widened
and decorated with new brick
pavers. Brand new trees have
been planted and the street has
been completely resurfaced. New
pedestrian-friendly street lights
have been installed and embla-
zoned with specially designed
neighborhood identifiers. The side
streets have also been improved
with brand new benches and fur-
niture. The curbs have been made
safer for pedestrians crossing the
street. “The streetscape will com-
pletely remodel Devon Avenue,
making it a top-notch business
venue,” Alderman Silverstein is
quoted saying. “Soon Devon will
be a safer, brighter, greener and
more beautiful destination for
shoppers from all over the City of
Chicago and beyond.”
Construction on the next phase
will continue into Spring 2015,
and the entire streetscape
between Kedzie and Leavitt
should be completed by 2016, the
press release said.
Chicago’s Little India Completes First Phase of Development
December 26, 2014
From left, Illinois State
Senator Ira Silverstein,
Alderwoman Debra
Silverstein and Chicago
Mayor Rahm Emanuel cut
the ribbon to mark the
completion of the first phase
of the Devon streetscape
project, Dec. 18.
By a Staff Writer
fficials of Punjabi Cultural
Society of Chicago formed
their new 2015 working
board at a meeting here Dec. 14.
Current PCS Finance Director and
long-time member of the board
Vick Singh was unanimously
elected 2015 president.
A resident of Long Grove, Singh
is well known through his com-
munity service and civic activities.
He is on the boards of several local
organizations, including the Lake
County Board of Review (Tax
Appeal Board) and real estate gov-
ernment affairs committee for
Association of Realtors Illinois. He
has served as an election judge in
Lake County for two years. He vol-
unteers at the local school, Life
Source Blood Bank and Sikh
Gurdwara in Palatine.
Amrit Pal Singh Sangha was
nominated as the Honorary
Chairman of PCS for 2015. Other
directors elected to the 2015 PCS
board are: Gurmit Singh Dhillon
(vice president), Bikram Singh
Chohan (executive secretary),
Surinder Singh Palia (finance sec-
retary), Manjeet Singh Bhalla
(sports director), Parvinder Singh
Nanua (youth director), Rao
Barinder Singh also known as
Robin Ghotra and Gagandeep
Singh Multani (both as inter-com-
munity directors).
“PCS is slowly passing the
baton to the next generation by
grooming, mentoring and includ-
ing the youth in the working
board,” Rajinder Singh Mago of
the PCS Board of Governors, is
quoted saying in a press release.
Punjabi Cultural Society Announces New 2015 Board
By a Staff Writer
Chicago travel agent of
Pakistani descent was
arrested Dec. 18, on a
federal fraud charge for
allegedly cheating at least 50
customers of approximately
$525,000, by misrepresenting
his ability to sell travel pack-
ages for the Hajj
that included
the visa required
to enter Saudi
Minhas, 42, was
charged with
mail fraud in a
criminal com-
plaint. He was
arrested without
incident by FBI
agents at his home on the
north side of Chicago. His
business, Light Star Hajj
Group, located at 5801
Northwest Hwy., Chicago was
also searched by law enforce-
ment agents. Minhas previous-
ly operated a travel agency in
Chicago called City Travel &
Tours. Mail fraud carries a
maximum sentence of 20 years
in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to the complaint
affidavit, between March and
November 2014, Minhas falsely
represented that Hajj travel
packages for September and
October of this year required
Saudi Arabia entry visas.
Minhas allegedly knew that
Light Star Hajj was not author-
ized by Saudi Arabia to obtain
visas and that he did not
intend to obtain the required
Hajj visas. He sold travel deals
to at least 50 customers and
deposited approximately
$525,000 he collected into
Light Star’s bank accounts, and
then commingled those funds
with other deposits and used
the money to make partial
refunds to customers,
to transfer funds to
Pakistan, and to pay
personal expenses,
the complaint alleges.
This year, the Hajj
pilgrimage was from
Oct. 2-7, and each
year, approximately
two million pilgrims
attend the Hajj.
The complaint says
that agents reviewed
Light Star’s bank records and
determined that approximately
$525,000 was deposited this
year from the sale of Hajj travel
packages. An additional
$586,000 was deposited from
other sources, including the
sale of Umrah travel packages,
cash deposits and transfers.
Agents determined that
approximately $745,000 was
spent on expenditures that
were not related to Hajj travel
packages, including $159,000
in checks to cash, $339,000 in
transfers to individuals in
Pakistan, approximately
$49,000 in checks to Minhas’
former wife, and other expens-
es, a press release from the FBI
Chicago Travel Agent
Arrested, Charged with
Swindling Hajj Travelers
Grayslake Temple Hosts Satyanarayana Katha
More than 150 devotees from different Indian communities attended the Samohik Satyanarayana Katha held at the Hindu Temple of Lake
County in Grayslake Dec. 20. Pandit Anil Joshi narrated the Katha and explained the story of Satyanarayana. The Katha was meant as a
thanksgiving for the past year and to usher in the New Year.
Vick Singh was unanimously
elected President of the Punjabi Cultural
Society at a PCS meeting in Palatine,
Illinois, Dec. 14.
Rashid Minhas
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