Monday, February 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Jagraon cop booked for aiding candidate
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
The Jagraon police today booked Inspector Prithipal Singh, former SHO of Raikot, on the charge of criminal intimidation of voters for helping the candidate of the Shiromani Akali Dal in the Raikot Assembly constituency in violation of the orders of the Election Commission.

The cop was earlier in the news for being transferred out of the Jagraon police district by the Election Commission. Some candidates had complained to the commission that the cop was working for Akali candidate Ranjit Singh Talwandi, son of former SGPC President Jagdev Singh Talwandi. The EC had ordered his transfer to Ferozepore but he took medical leave and was seen canvassing for the Akali candidate.

According to an FIR registered with the Raikot police station against Inspector Prithipal Singh, he has been booked under Section 129(3) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, and Sections 294 and 506 of the IPC. The Sections stand for misuse of office in elections, harassment and criminal intimidation of voters.

The FIR registered on a complaint by Mr Inderjit Singh Dhaliwal, a resident of Sudhar village, states that the complainant, along with some other persons, had gone to the house of Mr Bhagwant Singh in Abbuwal village to campaign for a party, but was surprised to see Inspector Prithipal Singh in that house. The complainant has claimed that the cop was “directing” the family of Mr Bhagwant Singh to leave the Congress and work for the Akali Candidate.

The FIR states that when the family refused, the cop abused them and threatened them with dire consequences. The matter was brought to the notice of Jagraon SSP Balkar Singh Sidhu, who ordered registration of the case. A complaint has also been sent in this regard to the EC.

Now, the issue of misuse of office by cops in helping some candidates has again assumed centrestage. It shows that even after the orders of the EC, some cops are still operating in the area to do their bit for their favourite candidates. The EC had also transferred the DSP, Raikot, Mr Amrik Singh on the charge of using his official position to help a particular candidate.

Interestingly, Technical Education Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha contesting from the Kila Raipur constituency had complained to the EC against the SSP Jagraon, but the EC too found no evidence of his involvement in the poll process.

The role of the police assumes significance as most incidents of violence have taken place in Raikot and Kila Raipur constituencies. Tension had prevailed in Tusse and surrounding villages where election material of some parties other than the Akali Dal was destroyed or removed. Reacting to reports published in Ludhiana Tribune, the EC had sought a report from the Jagraon police.


Akali-BJP candidates hold scooter rally
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
In order to send the message of togetherness to their voters, the Akali-BJP candidates from three urban constituencies of Ludhiana took out a scooter rally. They were followed by hundreds of their supporters. They went in different areas seeking vote for Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The rally was organised by the Bharatiya Valmiki Samaj president, Mr Vijay Dhanav, who is also an adviser to the SAD. All three candidates of the alliance, namely Mr Satpal Gosain from Ludhiana East, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar from Ludhiana West and Mr Pran Nath Bhatia from Ludhiana North, rode two-wheelers.

Talking to mediapersons before starting the rally the candidates expressed confidence that all of them would win the elections. They said a wrong impressions was being created that the Akali-BJP workers were not working together so we decided to take out a joint campaign rally. Mr Gosain claimed that he had been banking equally on the Akali voters as much as he had been relying on his own party workers.

Mr Bhatia, who is locked in a tough contest with Mr Rakesh Pandey of the Congress, said, “We are asking for votes for the Hindu-Sikh unity which has been strengthened under the leadership of Mr Badal.”

Mr Makkar claimed that he had been getting ‘phenomenal response’ from the electorate. He is contesting from Ludhiana West, which is a Hindu dominated constituency, with a strong support base of the BJP. He expressed his gratitude to the BJP workers for their ‘whole hearted support’ to him, which he claimed would ensure his victory.

Mr Dhanav, who command some influence in all three Assembly segments, asserted that the alliance candidates would win in all segments. He claimed that the ruling alliance would make a clean sweep in Ludhiana.


Morcha candidate complains to EC
Says cops are helping his rivals muster support
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
The Panthic Morcha candidate from Kila Raipur, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, today launched a complaint with the Election Commission alleging that two of his rivals, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha of the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress candidate, Ms Gurdial Kaur Khangura, were being helped by police officials in their electoral battle.

In a two-paged complaint, copies of which were given to the media here today, Mr Grewal alleged that a senior police officer of the rank of Additional Director-General of Police had been actively supporting one of the candidates in the constituency. He claimed that under the instructions of the said police officer, local police officers posted at various police stations had been helping the Congress candidate in mobilising support. He said an SHO of a local police station had arranged for taxis free of cost from a local taxi stand.

Similarly, Mr Grewal said, the SAD candidate was misusing his official position. He pointed out since Mr Garcha was a Cabinet Minister in the Badal government, he was using his clout. The Panthic Morcha candidate urged the EC to ensure that this was stopped.

While appreciating the decision of the EC to deploy central security forces in the constituency, Mr Grewal demanded that there should be regular monitoring of polling on the election day. Expressing faith in the impartiality of the EC, he said: “I have been in public life for the past 20 years and have tried to maintain a clean image. At this stage money and muscle power is being used against me so that I may not be able to win. I have neither the money nor the muscle power and I solely rely on your impartial and forthright attitude to ensure that nothing untoward is allowed at the time of polling”.

Mr Grewal demanded that the entire Kila Raipur assembly segment be declared “sensitive”, since he had apprehensions of violence there. He pointed out the Assembly segment had the maximum number of sensitive and hyper-sensitive polling booths and the presence of some persons with “criminal background” was adding to his worries. “However, I am sure that your sincere commitment to ensure a free and fair poll in Punjab in general and at Kila Raipur in particular will help me to sail through with the massive support I am getting from the public”, he said in the letter.


Posters on ’84 riots create tension
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
Despite a denial by the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Kila Raipur, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, about pasting of posters showing pictures of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, his rivals, including the Congress candidate, Bibi Gurdial Kaur Khangura, and the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, have alleged that the ruling alliance is trying to create a “communal hysteria in the area after seeing the ground slipping out of their feet”.

Reacting to these posters, Mr Grewal asked the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, as why he had not raised the issue during five years’ of his rule. “Let Mr Badal explain why he kept silent all these years and is now raking up the issue for political gains”, he said, while adding that such sensitive issues which could inflame public sentiments and should be ignored.

While condemning the 1984 riots, Mr Grewal pointed out, “Everyone knows who is responsible for the riots and people cannot forget it. But raking up the issue at this time simply means inciting communal tension in the society”. He wondered, as to how the Akali Dal could issue such advertisements, particularly when Mr Badal was claiming to have consolidated the Hindu-Sikh unity with his alliance with the BJP.

The chief campaign organiser of the SAD Mr Parminder Singh Garcha, however, denied that his party had pasted these posters. He claimed that these posters were being distributed by the Dangha Peedit Society (an organisation of the riot victims) and the SAD had nothing to do with it. However, Mr Grewal pointed out, “The SAD has inserted same advertisements in newspapers and television channels so there is no point for the party to back off”.

The Congress candidate, Bibi Gurdial Kaur Khangura, who seems to be the target of these posters, owing to her reported challenge to Mr Garcha, had also complained against these posters. She alleged that the ruling party candidate was feeling “frustrated as he has already lost the battle”. She pointed out that everyone had condemned the 1984 riots and the Congress leaders had even apologised for Operation Bluestar and punished all those who were found responsible. “Raising this issue at this point of time, simply means creating communal polarisation which is condemnable”, she observed.

Bibi Khangura made a passionate appeal saying, “Please do not play with the sentiments of people for petty partisan interests. Just do not try to open old wounds that can bleed each one of use to death”. Condemning such campaign, she said, “I do not expect anything better from such people as they have no policy, no programme and no issue to go to the people so they are trying to inflame communal passions”.


2 policemen shifted for threatening Cong men
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
The Khanna police has sent a constable and a Home Guard posted at Doraha police station to the Police Lines for threatening Congress workers in the area. The action comes in the wake of a complaint filed by Congress workers against constable Som Nath and home guard Karamjit Singh. The Khanna SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, had conducted an inquiry he ordered their transfer to the Police Lines.

In another case, the local police also registered a case under the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act against unidentified Congress workers for putting up flags and other election publicity material on the statue of Maj Bhupinder Singh, a war hero.

The Deputy Commissioner has ordered that some officials of the Food Corporation of India posted at Raikot will not be put on poll duty. An Akali candidate had complained to the Election Commission that the FCI officials who were relatives of the Congress candidate should not be put on poll duty.


Canvassing by PAU staff: VC told to act
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
Coming heavily on the faculty and employees of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), the Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning Officer, Mr S.K. Sandhu, today asked the Vice- Chancellor of PAU to seek explanation from certain faculty members and members of employees union who were openly canvassing for certain candidates.

Taking action on certain news reports which had mentioned that PAU teachers and employees were actively participating in election rallies, the Deputy Commissioner has sought their explanations. As per the service rules teachers are not supposed to support a candidate openly.

The action was quite expected as for the past several days many teachers of PAU were seen openly canvassing for the candidates. A Dean of PAU was also present in a rally of an independent candidate from Ludhiana organised in Embassy Hotel. Moreover, two senior functionaries of PAUTA were seen canvassing for a candidate in Hathi Complex, a residential area of PAU employees. The two were also seen raising slogans in support of the candidates.

While in the past also many PAU teachers have been chargesheeted for supporting the candidates, this time also many teachers had gone specially on leave in order to canvass for some candidates in their respective constituencies.

Some candidates had issued releases to media claiming the support of the PAU Employees Union. Although the release was published in a cross section of media, no denial had come from the union after the publication.


Anti-incumbency factor may help Cong in Kila Raipur
Naveen Garewal
Tribune News Service

Kila Raipur, February 10
Kila Raipur is beginning to test the nerves of all those in the fray with the voters choosing to remain non-committal so far. Lack of response coupled with an uncertainty has forced the candidates to further intensify their campaign on this seat that has thrown up a keenly watched quadrangular contest amidst charges of misuse of official machinery and unabated supply of liquor by the ruling party nominee.

Traditionally an Akali seat, Kila Raipur residents are no longer in an obliging mood this time. Anti-incumbency factor apart, a liquor cartel opposed to the Akali nominee is actively sabotaging his campaign that has placed the Congress in a formidable position for the first time in the history of the constituency.

Unsure of their footing, a poster war has been launched in the area, apparently at the behest of the Akali Dal nominee, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha. Posters and banners with paintings of 1984 anti-Sikh riots and destruction of Akal Takht have been pasted on vehicles and buildings asking the people to desist from voting for the Congress, accusing the party of being anti-panthic and responsible for promoting terrorism in the state. The Congress has taken up the matter with the Election Commission and accused the Akalis of causing a communal wedge for electoral gain.

A first-time entrant into politics, the Congress candidate, Mrs Gurdial Kaur Khangura, enjoys a clean reputation and has gelled well with the ruralites in the 80-odd villages of the constituency. The responsive crowds at Congress rallies has come as a big morale booster for the Congress that has always trailed in this constituency that has become known for hoisting annual rural Olympics.

Apart from the Congress, the Panthic Morcha Candidate, Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, has benefited directly from the resentment against the easy flow of liquor in the constituency. Mr Grewal too enjoys a very clean reputation and has worked hard in nurturing this constituency during the past few years.

Though no voter is willing to give out his mind openly, but people like Mr Darshan Singh Cheema of Barundi village are unhappy with the manner in which an attempt is being made to incite communal sentiments. “The posters that have been put up will serve no purpose except opening old wounds. Immediate steps should be taken to stop it”. There is the possibility of the move to boomerang against those trying to cash in on it.

The fourth candidate who is not a winning horse, but cannot be overlooked, is former MLA Tarsem Jodhan contesting as an Independent. The Congress backed him in the 1997 elections.

In the 1997 poll, the Akali Dal represented by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal polled about 45 per cent votes numbering 38,532 , while Mr Jodhan backed by the Congress polled around 32 per cent votes numbering 27,500. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann of the Shiromni Akali Dal (Mann) came third by polling about 18 per cent out of the total 1,22,318 voters. But the equation is bound to change this time if October, 1999, parliamentary election results of this constituency are any indication. In these elections the Congress secured more votes in the constituency over the Akalis and sent the Congress candidate Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, to Parliament from Ludhiana parliamentary constituency of which Kila Raipur forms a part.

What has apparently caused a setback to the Congress in this constituency is lack of active participation of Mr Ghalib in the campaigning process. Besides the president of the District Congress Committee, Mr Gurdev Singh Lapran, who is a former Akali, is believed to be sabotaging the Congress campaign.

What has, however, come as the biggest setback to the Akali Dal in recent days is the announcement of support to Mrs Khangura by the sports lobby of the area that command a significant influence in the area on account of holding annual rural Olympics. Besides, the appeal by Baba Darshan Singh, head of Dhakki Sahib, to the voters to vote in a manner that ensures the defeat of the sitting Akali Dal MLA has boosted the prospects of both the Panthic Morcha and Congress nominees.


BJP men canvass for Independent?
D.B. Chopra

Ahmedgarh, February 10
Instead of supporting the SAD-BJP combine candidate, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, BJP workers in this Muslim-dominated constituency are openly canvassing for Mr Ajit Singh Chanduraian, an Independent candidate.

Some hard-core BJP and RSS men were seen moving around in the constituency in election vehicles of Mr Ajit Singh and canvassing for him.

When asked about this, without trying to hide their apparent motive, these workers were quite candid while admitting that they were flouting the party directives to support Mr Nusrat Ali Khan. In fact, some of them even said they were doing so on the instructions of senior party leaders such as Mr Brij Lal Rinwa and Mr Madan Mohan Mittal.

Mr Ashutosh Vinayak, who had contested the Assembly poll from this constituency as a BJP candidate in 1992, and had lost by a margin of about 3000 votes to Mr Abdul Gaffar, the Congress candidate, told Ludhiana Tribune that it was on the directions of senior party leaders that BJP workers were working against Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, who is defending his seat this time.

The message from the party leadership, the workers said, was loud and clear as it had asked them to wrest the seat from a Muslim candidate if possible and as such they were openly supporting Mr Ajit Singh Chanduraian. And if they succeed, they would surely be creating a history of sorts.

On the other hand, Mr Ajit Singh, though enjoying the BJP support, seems to have succeeded in only alienating Muslims voters who had been thinking of voting in his favour. Muslims in general are criticising him for a statement made by him at public meetings at Jandali village a few days ago where he had called upon the villagers to prevent the seat from falling in the hands of a Muslim.

Observers of the election scene are watching the developments very keenly as this constituency has always voted a Muslim candidate to power so far irrespective of party affiliations.

To begin with it was the great Nawab of Malerkotla, who had won the elections on SAD as well as Congress tickets. After him, it was his wife Ms Sajida Begum, who won on a Congress ticket. She was followed by Abdul Gaffar (Congress) and Mr Nusrat Ali Khan (SAD), who is currently defending his seat. As Capt Amarinder Singh had chosen to sacrifice Mr Abdul Gaffar this time in favour of Ms Razia Sultana, he is contesting the election as an Independent candidate.


Badal govt didn’t keep its word: writers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
Writers of the Kendri Lekhak Sabha, at a meeting organised at Punjabi Bhawan here yesterday, said they were a disillusioned lot.

Addressing the meeting, the president, Mr Mahinder Deep Grewal, said they had seen candidates commuting on cycles become owners of several commercial complexes in the city two election victories later.

Their children now held positions of authority.

Their relatives were on plum positions whereas the state coffers were gradually getting empty.

He said the Badal Government had promised pension for the writers, libraries for villages and money for the construction of Lekhak Bhawans, but nothing had materialised. "What is amazing," “he said, “was that in Chandigarh the capital of Punjab, the Punjabi language is not the medium of instruction.”

Mr Kanwaljeet, another writer, said the writers wanted to reach the rural populace through their work. The Badal government had not kept its promise of setting up more libraries in villages.

Jaswant Zafar, popular poet of the city, said the government should have a focus. No party had given an agenda that pointed at solving the burning issues of “education for all”, medical facilities and housing problems. They were fed up with a government that lacked focus and had no long-term planning.

The writers had invited Mr Harish Dhanda, an Independent from the Ludhiana West constituency. They questioned him as to what had prompted him to stand for the elections. Mr Dhanda said politics had to be given a “new turn". “The failure of the administration has led to a lot of ills in society and corruption has crept into the legislature and judiciary as well. The only way things can change is by bringing in candidates who will fight for the people, he answered.

Among the writers who attended the meeting were Jaswant Zafar, poet, Janmeja Johl, Punjabi Likhari Sabha, H.S. Randhawa (theatre), Swaranjit Savi, poet and artist, Randhir Kanwal, Guriqbal, a literary critic, Amarjit and Raji.


Four-cornered contest in Amloh constituency
Bhushan Sood

Amloh, February 10
For Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, MP and President, Sarv Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister and General Secretary Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) SAD a lot is at state on the results of their respective candidates from the Amloh constituency as the village of the former leader falls in this constituency. He has put Mr Harnek Singh Diwana, advocate, as the Panthic Morcha candidate. Mr Diwana had already contested the Parliament election from the Ropar constituency of which the Amloh Assembly segment was also a part.

Mr Tohra had already covered the constituency while Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President Akali Dal (Amritsar) had addressed rallies at Ghulu Majra, Bhadal Thua and Kaulgarh on Saturday and appealed to voters to vote for the honest candidate of the Panthic Morcha. Mr Mann declared at the rally that the Sikhs would not cooperate with the Indian Army in case of war with Pakistan as the army had attacked the Golden Temple. Election office in charge told mediapersons that Amloh circle had been divided into Bhadal Thua, Mazri, Baini, Paheri and Shamspur zones which were entrusted to experienced jathedars to get the maximum votes for the candidates from their areas of influence Jathedar Kahla Singh Baini, Jathedar Parmjit Singh Khanian district vice-president, Jathedar Ravinder Singh Khalsa, general secretary Youth Akali Dal (Amritsar). Mr Gurdial Singh Ghulu Majra and Mr Jarnail Singh, former vice-president Municipal Council, Amloh, been campaigning for the candidate. Mr Diwana had also served the Army.

The SAD candidate, Mr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, MLA, Shutrana, had been brought to this constituency (his birth place Raipur village is 4 km from Amloh) by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who also belongs to this constituency. He had distributed cheques worth Rs 6.5 crore in a single day at a sangat darshan programme a few days earlier from the announcement of the elections, for the development works in the area.

The captain had made a whirlwind tour along with the candidate and Mr Hari Singh, circle president, Amloh and circle president Mandi Gobindgarh Mohan Singh, Mr Tejinder Singh Salana advocate, Mr Karamjit Singh Bhargana, vice-president, State Karamchari Dal, Mr Harnek Singh Badali, district president Shahpur, Jalalpur, Saliani, Shamspur, Raiwal, Akalgarh, Jindalpur, Bhunder and Jhamal yesterday. The minister claimed that his government had implemented 33 per cent reservation policy of having sarpanches from the Dalit class, besides grants for pucca houses and scholarships for education of girls were granted for the uplift of the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes. He was an ex-serviceman and had a long political innings and had been elected MLA in 1972, 1977 and 1997.

The third candidate Mr Sadhu Singh Dharmsot was a nominee of the Congress who had nursed his Assembly segments well as a minister. He had always been in touch with the voters even when he had lost elections in 1997. Mr Dharmsot belonged to the Bazigar community, which has a major chunk of about 10,000 votes. He was confident to win the election on the ground that he had strived hard to get a sub-divisional status for Amloh town, formerly a sub-tehsil. While Mandi Gobindgarh had got the status of a sub-tehsil besides other development works of upgradation of schools, laying of roads and improvement in road network in the rural areas etc.

Though he lost the seat to Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, SAD candidate, in 1997 with a margin of more than 13,000 votes but in 1998 in the Parliament poll, the victory of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, a Congress nominee, not only covered the earlier loss but he also got 20,000 votes above the SAD candidate from the Amloh Assembly segment, which was the highest margin of winning votes in nine Assembly seats comprising the Ropar Parliament constituency.

Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, had already addressed election rallies in favour of Mr Sadhu Singh, Mr Gurdev Singh Khanian, district vice-president, Mr Swatantar Karkara, member, PPCC, Mr Joginder Singh Naraingarh, Chairman, district kisan cell, Mr Shingara Singh, block president and Mr Om Parkash Karkara, district vice-president of the Congress party were campaigning for Mr Sadhu Singh.

This time Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had fielded its state secretary Mann Singh Manhera, who had earlier contested from the Ropar Parliament constituency of which Amloh was one of the nine Assembly segments. He got his school education from Balahari Kalan village and graduated from Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib. He had a sizeable support of youth workers. He had been residing in ward No. 2, Amloh, to remain in touch with the voters and get their grievances redressed through the party fora. The district president of the party, Mr Harchand Singh Nasrali, had influence in Mandi Gobindgarh and Mr Parkash Singh Saliani, tehsil president were campaigning day and night. BSP supremo Kanshi Ram’s visit to this town yesterday gave a boost to the election campaign. He was received by his party workers. He appealed to the voters in a well-attended rally in grain market, here yesterday to get his candidate elected with a thumping majority so that the government could be formed in the state. An influential Jat Sikh Congressman, Mr Kuldeep Singh Bhadal Thua, of the Congress party joined the BSP. He would cause a big erosion in the Congress votebank.

Mr Harbhajan Singh Attapur passed plus two from B.N. Khalsa School, Patiala. He had filed his nomination as a Jan Shakti Party candidate. The Union Minister for Coal and Mines had addressed a rally in Dasehra ground, Mandi Gobindgarh a few days ago in his favour, which was mostly attended by migrant labourers and factory workers. The minister promised a clean government if voted to power. He appealed for votes for Mr Attapur.

Mr Saroop Singh Sutantar was contesting as ths Lok Bhalai Party nominee. He passed B.Com from Guru Nanak College, Doraha. He was familiar with the voters as he had contested the Assembly election from here in 1992. Truck and taxi drivers had come out in his support as this party had taken up their cause with the government. The party president, Mandi Gobindgarh, Mr Parveen Kumar was working for the success of the candidate.

The Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) had put up Mr Surjit Singh Thekedar as its candidate from Amloh (Reserve) segment. He passed his Giani and accountancy and was now working as contractor in the Telecom and Public Health Departments. He had also worked for the Youth Akali Dal earlier Now he was district vice-president of the party. He had promised to lay sewerage in the town if voted to power.

A tug of war was going on between the Panthic Morcha and the SAD to get support from Akali Jathedars. At present the main contest was witnessed among four (SHSAD, SAD, Congress and BSP) candidates. The coming days would decide who would win.


CM indifferent to people’s needs: Arjun
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, February 10
The Rajiv-Longowal accord is still relevant in Punjab as during the past 17 years, there has been no alternative to it. This was stated here today by Mr Arjun Singh, senior Congress leader and former Governor of Punjab, in an exclusive interview.

In reply to a query as to who was responsible for the non-implementation of the Rajiv-Longowal accord? Mr Arjun Singh replied, “Everybody has to share the blame and most of all the Akali Dal and the BJP are responsible for this because while President of the Akali Dal Sant Harchand Singh Longowal had accepted the need to rise above the partisan politics, to do something bigger in the larger interest of the state, Mr Badal had not only opposed the accord but he also started opposing Sant Longowal. His opposition to Sant ji led to his assassination which was the biggest setback to the accord,” Mr Arjun Singh alleged that Mr Badal was not interested in the broader interests of Punjab and he was only interested in getting a position. ‘That was the time when no political issue was involved and strengthening the hands of Sant Harchand Singh was the issue and failing to strengthen Sant ji had revealed the real character of Mr Badal,” he said.

Summing up this impressions of his visit to Punjab, the former Governor said, “It is becoming clear that the Congress is going to win a very comfortable majority and form its government in the state.” He said biggest factor favouring the Congress selection campaign was the presence of Ms Sonia Gandhi. She had a charismatic appeal for the people of the state. Moreover, the SAD was showing its true colours. It has a totally personalised politics for personal gains ignoring the larger interests of the people. This has always been the case with the SAD and no Akali government except the present one had completed full term of five years.

On the question of leadership of the Congress legislature party in Punjab, Mr Arjun Singh said the issue was open and no one had been nominated so far. “The Congress high command in consultation with the newly elected MLAs would decide the leader,” he said.

Regarding the elections to UP Vidhan Sabha, Mr Arjun Singh said, “The BJP there is in the same position as Mr Badal in Punjab, BJP will not come to power in UP and it will be a hung Assembly. The Samajwadi Party might be leading. The Congress will improve its position very much. It will have a decisive role in shaping the future map of UP politics. The UP Vidhan Sabha election results will have impact on the NDA Government in the Centre.”

Referring to the performance of Mr Vajpayee as leader of the NDA Government he said, “Mr Vajpayee is rattled and he has no control over his ministers.”

When asked about the extent of corruption in the NDA Government, the former Governor said, “you will have to find a new word for “rampant corruption.”

Talking about his own party he said there were certain issues which had given the party handicaps. Biggest one being the level of credibility on the issue of secularism and commitment to the cause of the poor. “During the past 3-4 years Ms Sonia Gandhi has had fierce commitment to secularism and has been able to remove doubts about real secularism. This has given a new life to the Congress. She is the unchallenged leader of the party. This has brought a sense of unity to the party without which no party can function.”

Answering a question Mr Arjun Singh said, “The Congress will not pursue a vendetta against anyone. But whatever wrong has been done will have to be corrected.”


PCMS wants ‘healthy’ agenda
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
Dr Hardip Singh, president, and Dr Surinder Singh Singla, general secretary, of the PCMS Association, Punjab, have appealed to all political parties to adopt health, education and employment on the priority agenda of the new government.

Disease or ill-health is an integral part of illiteracy, unemployment, poverty, squalor and disease. Thus to improve health, radical steps in the fields of literacy, employment, poverty, hygienic and airy houses and surroundings and squalor and disease are required.

The association understands that the non-availability of health facilities to all Punjabis amounts to denial of ‘right to life’.

The association alleges that the health services have completely collapsed in Punjab. A conspiracy to close down the health services and sell prime land of government hospitals has also been alleged. In Amritsar, the land donated to the Ram Lal Eye and ENT Free Hospitals by a charitable trust nearly one hundred years ago has been sold out for Rs 14 crore. Even the prime land for mental hospital has also been put to commercial use.

The government medical colleges and hospitals have been starved of funds. The budget head for the purchase of drugs and hospital equipment in these institutions has been withdrawn. Patients are made to pay users charges at a very high rate. The health services have completely crumbled due to steep rise in purchase fee, hospital admission fee, operations and fee for laboratory test. It has become impossible for a person from ordinary background to seek treatment even in emergency cases and accidents. Due to non-availability of emergency and life saving drugs and equipment, the poor patients are unable to take relief from hospitals attached with government medical colleges. The private hospitals are so costly that they cannot think of going there. Quoting figures, Dr Hardeep Singh said there had been a sharp decline in number of patients coming to government hospitals due to increase in hospital charges after May 1, 1999.

The government has also collected crores of rupees by selling some seats in State Medical College at Rs 35 lakh per seat. They alleged that since then, in state medical colleges alone more than Rs 15 crore have been collected from poor patients and students and not a single penny has been spent on upgrading the facilities and equipment in the hospitals and colleges. He said due to the hike in hospital charges, the bed occupancy in Faridkot has crashed down to a mere 40 per cent, over 50 per cent in Amritsar and about 60 per cent in Patiala.

In the past, money was pumped into the health facilities but the present policy is to try and earn money from hospitals and medical institutions. Thus, by making health as a purchaseable commodity, the right to life has been infringed.

Further, the medical education has become costly. There has been a steep hike in the tuition fee and hostel fee of diploma courses in pharmacy, radiographers, laboratory technician, general nursing, ayurvedic, medical and dental courses. Despite this hike, no effort has been made to upgrade the library facilities, laboratory facilities and the condition of the hostels. Consequently, medical education also has also been made into a trade.

The capacity of Government Dental College at Patiala and Faridkot could have been easily increased to 100 seats as against existing 30 seats. But it has not been done to promote the interests of ‘private medical shops’.

The association has demanded that hike in hospital charges should be withdrawn, poor patients be given free treatment while rich be charged. Free treatment should be given in all accident and emergency cases. The hospital facilities in government medical colleges and attached hospitals be improved. The exploitation of poor students at the hand of the private ‘medical education shops’ be stopped and an inquiry be initiated into the bungling in granting permission to such medical schools and colleges during the past five years.


Why are women not interested in voting?
Asha Ahuja

Ludhiana, February 10
Even as the D-day for Assembly polling nears, very few women can be seen at election rallies and meetings being held in the city and surrounding areas. Whatever the level of elections — national, state or municipal — it has been noted that women generally refrain from active participation in voting.

There are many reasons for this. First of all there are not many women candidates in the fray. Dancing girls are employed to attract the crowds which is again distasteful for women. When they do not attend the meetings, they are totally oblivious of manifestoes of various parties. Then the candidates do not say anything much in favour of the women that should interest them. Moreover, housewives and illiterate women think that if they did not vote, it wouldn’t make much difference to their lives. They would have to cook, clean, look after the children and their homes. Similarly, the working women feel that a change in the government is not going to get them promotion.

But the main factor is that women are not aware of their power that their votes can bring in a better government. The turnout of women voters is always lesser than that of men. The women do not realise that if they exercised their franchise, a large number of bogus voters would be pushed out. Moreover, just like the little drops make the mighty ocean, similarly each vote counts. By casting their votes after deliberations, they can bring forth a government more responsible and accountable.

Ms Suraksha, a housewife, says: “I will not cast vote as all parties are just the same.They do not bother about women’s rights. Do they care about the domestic violence that women have to suffer? Are they concerned to make any rules against it? Each candidate promises the moon and later on just forgets his promises. Anyway what difference a vote will make”.

“The need is to educate the women about the importance of exercising their right to vote. This is one right that makes women stand at the same level as men. Majority of women cast their votes under pressure of male members of the family — be it husband, father or brother. It is time women became conscious of the power that they wield through exercising their vote for the right kind of candidate”, say members of a women organisation.


Reaching voters online
Deepkamal Kaur

Ludhiana, February 10
With local candidates trying to reach their voters online for the Assembly poll, electioneering has gone hi-tech this time.

To compete with the various political parties giving a facelift to their websites these days, Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, an Independent candidate from Ludhiana West, has also recently joined the race by launching a website,, through which he is communicating daily with residents, asking their opinion and replying to their queries. The site is being daily updated to list his daily schedule of rallies and other appointments, making it easy for his supporters to reach him. This has given his campaign a tremendous boost.

Mr Dhanda’s campaign can be termed as the first interactive campaign as anyone logging on to the site can send him messages, the site also lists the messages of well-known educationists, social workers and women activists of the city. These are the people who have supported him in holding rallies for academicians and women folk.

The website also gives his bio-data with his family background, educational background and career. His achievements like getting elected to the post of president of the Ludhiana Bar Association for the sixth time, association with the Human Rights Organisation and as organiser of social welfare camps like blood and eye donations have also been highlighted. In his online appeal to the public, Mr Dhanda has written about the prevailing state of political parties and attitude of politicians. He said, “Most of the political parties select candidates who will act as rubber stamps to their leaders. They do not want educated, intelligent and experienced candidates for obvious reasons. The result is a corrupt and inefficient system that is insensitive to people’s aspirations. Please cast your vote in favour of the candidate you think is deserving. It is the individual who matters and not the candidate you think is deserving.”

In the ‘constituency’ section, Mr Dhanda has given the complete details of his constituency with major areas falling in it, markets, educational institutions and health care facilities available. A map of the constituency is also given for more clarity. All 151 booths along with areas covered under that booth and number of voters was also given in the ‘booth locations’ section.

Interestingly, the ‘election symbol’ section gives a picture of a swanky Mercedes instead of the usual car picturised in his posters, banners and models. With his symbol he writes, “My car is a symbol of fast paced progress and journeys ahead. So come on and join the ride”. Besides, the site also mentions the office locations and contact details.

The Ludhiana West constituency from where Mr Dhanda is pitched against Mr Harnam Das Johar of the Congress and Mr Avtar Singh Makkar of the Akali Dal-BJP combine. To his advantage, the infighting in the Akali Dal has put him in a formidable position causing a panic in the Akali and Congress camps.


For them ammo depot is the issue
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Baddowal (Ludhiana), February 10
Neither corruption nor unemployment or development is an issue for residents of this village who are literally sitting on a tinder box. For the thousands of residents of this village, the single and only issue is the threatening presence of the Baddowal Ammunition Depot.

The villagers, led by its panchayat members, have been virtually running from pillar to post for many years to get the depot shifted from here. They are also facing eviction orders and notices have been issued to them for evicting the place many times. They have also moved the High Court against this issue and the matter stands stayed by the court.

Tired of knocking at various doors for justice, the villagers are eyeing the elections and waiting for the political leaders to do something worthwhile for them. They say, “We have decided now that whosoever will promise to bail us out of this situation will get our votes. For us, the major factor into play is that whether we will be allowed to live in our houses or not, which we have constructed after spending all our money that we had earned.”

The issue of the Baddowal Ammunition Depot is a bone of contention between the residents as well as the Army officials as the residents had constructed their houses within the prohibited area. The Army was against the human inhabitation in an area of around 1000 feet since 1960 when the depot was set up as during any mishap it can claim lives of all who stayed in its vicinity.

But over the years many structures, including houses and marriage palaces, have come up violating the instructions. While a board put up by the Army instructing the people not to construct any structure within 1000 feet of ammo depot still stands, many houses have been constructed beyond the limit.

A few months ago the district administration had demolished many marriage palaces worth crores of rupees. Although the demolition process was reportedly a selective one as allegations later surfaced that some of them were not demolished as they belonged to a relative of a senior Akali leader. The villagers had then taken up the matter with the SAD-BJP government. The issue had assumed such significance that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had to rush to Delhi for consultation with the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Badal had later claimed that the depot would be removed and the people had nothing to fear. However, the Army officials even after this claim of Mr Badal had sent more notices to the people.

Mr Satpal Singh, a PCO owner, near the ammunition depot, said they would vote for only those candidates who ensured they would not be removed from here.

With judicial process set to take action either way in due course of time, the residents are banking their hopes on the elections now. The village falls in the Dakha constituency.


Dhanda promises to make difference
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, who is contesting as an Independent candidate from Ludhiana West, has said he would make a difference and try to convince everyone that honest people with clean image can make a lot of difference. “Only they need to come forward”, he observed.

Addressing a rally at the Udham Singh Nagar market in his Assembly segment, he urged the people to make a judicious choice and ensure that ‘you are voting for a right candidate.’ Mr Dhanda, who is also the president of the District Bar Association Ludhiana, was at his rhetoric best while responding to the applause and appreciation of the audience.

Mr Dhanda claimed that he had been getting a lot of response since people were fed up with the traditional politicians who had hardly done anything for them. “I am looking forward for your support only to return it with sincere efforts for the uplift of everyone and not for my or my family’s interests,” he said.

Mr Dhanda has received the support from several social, political and non- political organisations, including the Indian Ex-services League, the Lok Bhalai Party, the Samajwadi Party, the CPM (Pasla), the Hindu-Sikh Arora Khatri Council, the Ex-servicemen Employees Union, the Janta Dal (U), the Sambhav International, the Sehajdari Akali Dal, the Jagan Nath Rath Yatra Mahotsav Committee and the Senior Citizens Association, Ludhiana.


Vora pacifies dissidents
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
The Congress treasurer and party in charge for Punjab, Mr Moti Lal Vora, today managed to rope in several dissidents, including the local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, who had so far distanced themselves from the party campaigning. Mr Ghalib addressed a public meeting at Sahnewal in presence of Mr Voar and announced his “full support” to Mr Milkait Singh Birmi, who is contesting on the party ticket from Ludhiana Rural.

Mr Ghalib, who was maintaining a silence obviously for his reservations about the nomination of candidates, was pacified by Mr Vora and motivated to join the campaigning of Congress candidates. He started with Mr Birmi and declared that he would wholeheartedly work for the party. In fact, it was the AICC observer, Dr Param Navdeep Singh, from Rajasthan, who worked for three days to motivate Mr Ghalib, Mr Nahar Singh Gill and Mr Gurdev Lapran and several others to join the campaign. Mr Vora appreciated the efforts of Dr Param in managing to rope in the dissidents.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Vora exhorted upon the party workers to put up a united fight against the Akali-BJP regime in the state.

Addressing the concerns of the dissidents, he promised that all would be properly addressed to and rehabilitated in due course of time.

Dr Param thanked Mr Ghalib and others for joining the campaign in support of the Congress candidates in Ludhiana. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Birmi assured all party leaders that he would come up to their expectations and thanked them for their support.


Johar promises clean administration
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
Senior Congress leader and party candidate from the Ludhiana West Assembly segment, Mr Harnamdass Johar has promised a clean and corruption-free administration in the state and urged the people to vote for Congress government.

Speaking at a civic reception at Satluj Club, Mr Johar claimed a “massive wave” in support of the Congress. He pointed out all poll surveys indicated a ”landslide victory” for the Congress.

Former Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University L.S. Chawla, welcoming Mr Johar, promised that all well-meaning people were supporting the Congress and Mr Johar as they were fed up with the government.

Mr Ajit Singh Chawla, secretary of the club, alleged the Badal government had resorted to victimisation of rivals and hoped a Congress government would provide relief t the people.


Problems for Tohra foreseen
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
In the Vidhan Sabha elections, women and religious organisations will play an important role in the formation of the next government, if a Ludhiana-based astrologer is to be believed.

The astrologer who has made several accurate predictions on many national and international events has predicted difficulties for the Punjab Pradesh Congress chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, up to March 11, 2002, which according to him will create a big hindrance in his way to the chair of Chief Minister.

He has also predicted problems for Panthic Morcha chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra with Mercury in the third house and Jupiter in the eleventh in the annual horoscope up to September 24, 2002.

For Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he says his honour will be at stake as ‘rahu’ is in the fifth house.


SC wing of SHSAD to support SAD candidate
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
The SC/BC wing of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic Morcha) has decided to support the SAD-BJP candidate in the Dakha constituency.

Mr Narinder Singh Parwana, district president (rural), Mr Malkit Singh Khalsa, general secretary, said that the decision was taken at a meeting recently. The members said that they would support the SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik in Dakha. The SC/BC members alleged that they were moved by the indifferent attitude of the Panthic Morcha. “We were not given importance by the party,” said Mr Parwana. He said that they had left the Panthic Morcha to join the SAD.


Scientist in soup over fake domicile certificate
Kamal Kishore Shankar
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
A scientist in the Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET), Dr Bengali Babu is facing trial for fraudulently obtaining a residence certificate from district administration for admission of his son to an engineering course.

According to sources, Dr Bengali Babu had joined his duty at CIPHET at Ludhiana on June 22, 1999. He had been allotted the house (C-1, CIPHET, PAU Campus, Ludhiana) and eversince he had resided there. But according to the residence certificate obtained by the accused which was issued on July 3, 2000 by district administration, the family was residing at the house for the past five years.

The complainant, Jaspal Singh a resident of Punjab Mata Nagar, who had lodged a complaint regarding the matter, on January 3, 2002, had alleged that Dr Bengali Babu had misrepresented before the authorities concerned for getting the residence certificate. The Assistant Commissioner (Complaints), Ms Anita Darshi, had summoned the accused and complainant to appear on February 7 for explanation. Both of them had appeared before the authority concerned, where the complainant had accepted that this was his complaint and a copy of the complaint was also given to the accused for rejoinder.

The complainant had stated in the complaint that the accused had done this to secure admission of his son Rahul Singh’s to an engineering course at Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar against the preferential quota meant for the residents of Punjab state.

According to the complaint, up to June 1999, Dr Bengali Babu, his wife Madhuri Singh and his son Rahul Singh had been residing at 1/241, Rashim Khand, Sharda Nagar, Lucknow in Uttar Pardesh. The complainant further stated that Dr Babu was in the service of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, at Lucknow from where he was transferred to CIPHET at Ludhiana in June, 1999.

The complainant disclosed that Madhuri Singh, had furnished a false affidavit dated July 2, 2000 duly attested by an Executive Magistrate, Ludhiana, that she was a bonafide resident of H. No. 1913, Maharaj Nagar, Street No. 4, Ludhiana for a period of more than five years. He further disclosed that she had resided at Ludhiana only after the transfer of her husband and moreover the address given in the affidavit was of Tarsem Singh, a typist in the CIPHET.

It was further alleged that Dr Bengali Babu had also misrepresented before the district administration by filing a false affidavit (dated June 29, 2000), which supported the false contention and statement of his wife. The complainant said the accused’s son, Rahul Singh did claim the benefit of Residence in Uttar Pardesh state by means of his affidavit dated June 30, 1999, for appearing in Uttar Pardesh State Engineering Admission Test (UPSEAT) for the session 1998-99.

However, when this correspondent contacted Dr Bengali Babu, he refused to talk about the matter. He said he would explain everything only before the authority concerned.


Undertrials’ escape to be probed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 10
The Ludhiana police has today ordered an inquiry into the alleged dereliction of duty by some cops leading to the escape of two undertrials from police custody in the old courts three days ago. The undertrials had escaped from the Bakshikhanna building by breaking a hole in a wall of the building, which was in a dilapidated condition.

The escape by prisoners has once again brought to focus the issue of the crumbling Bakshikhanna building where undertrials from the central jail are brought daily for appearance in court. The building has already crumbled at some places and even roof of a room is missing. A number of undertrials had earlier escaped from the building.

SSP Ludhiana Harpreet Singh Sidhu said he had assigned the inquiry to a senior official, who would start investigation after the elections were over.

The undertrials have been identified as Harvinder Singh alias Raju and Mukesh Kumar alais Sonu. Raju, a resident of Basti Jodhewal, was arrested in an attempted dacoity and under the Arms Act case on January 14 last whereas Sonu, who belongs to Rajasthan, was behind bars since September, 2000, in a case of robbery and under the Arms Act.

Interestingly, on Thursday, district court had sentenced Sonu to 21 months of imprisonment. Of these, he had already completed one and a half years. Currently, he was facing charges a robbery.

The undertrials exploited the weak structure of the wall of the Bakshikhanna and made good their escape on Thursday. Their escape came to light in the evening only.

Meanwhile, the local jail officials have written to their seniors and the local police authorities, expressing their concern over the escape and requested to the police to take suitable precautions in future.

A senior police official told Ludhiana Tribune that the lock-up could be safe only when the Bakshikhanna is shifted in a new building. The police said the building was maintained by judicial officers.


Soldier cremated
Our Correspondent

Samrala, February 10
The mortal remains of Havaldar Daljeet Singh of Naulari Khurd village, 10 km from here, was cremated at his native village on Sunday. He was killed in Rajauri/Poonch sector and his body was brought to his village by Col M.S. Randhawa of the District Sainik Board, Ludhiana. The SDM announced all benefits to the bereaved family as per government rules.


Child drowned in freak accident
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
In a freak accident here yesterday, Raju, a 15-month-old child was drowned in a tub of water lying in his house. The father of the child was away on work when the tragedy occurred.

However, when the child was found drowned in the tub by family members shortly after the incident, he was rushed to the CMC Hospital where he was declared dead. The father of the victim works as radiographer in the local Civil Hospital and lives in Phase II of Urban Estate on the Chandigarh road.

Case registered

In a scuffle that occurred in front of New Takkar Medicos, a medical store on the Brown road, here on Saturday, a number of persons were injured. In the scuffle bamboo sticks were used.

According to information, Satbir Singh, a resident of Jamalpur Colony, who was among the injured, used to work as an assistant at the medical store. Sometime ago, a theft of Rs 50,000 had taken place from the shop. According to Satbir, shop owners had got him tortured by the police on the basis of suspicion while he was innocent and had no hand whatsoever in the crime. A case has been registered at the Division No. 2 police station.

One held with opium

At a naka on the Chuharpur road on Friday, the Haibowal police arrested Khushhal Singh, a resident of Salempur village falling under the Sidhwan Bet police station and seized 200 gm of opium from his possession. He has been booked under the NDPS Act.

Car driver injured

On the complaint of Mr Malkit Singh, a resident of Mohali, the Sadar police has registered a case against Jaswinder Singh for allegedly injuring the complainant in an accident. Mr Malkit Singh had stated that he along with Mr Jagtar Singh was on way from Ludhiana to Jagraon on Friday in his car. But when they reached the railway crossing near Baddowal on the Ferozepore road, the accused rammed his tempo into the car as a result of which the car was damaged and he also sustained injuries.

Two held

Cops from the Kotwali police station raided a dharamshala in the Saban Bazaar area on Friday and arrested a married man and a married woman in their early forties. According to information, there has been an affair between the two for a long time and the wife of the man had even got a case registered against her husband under Sections 494 and 498-A of the IPC for living with another woman without having obtained a legal divorce from her. The man, who is said to be the father of five children, is a resident of Shimla Puri, while the woman is a resident of New Janata Nagar. The police also nabbed the same couple on August 4, 2001, under similar circumstances.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |