Thursday, February 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Not allowed to vote despite photo I-cards
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, February 13
Mr Barkha Ram enters a polling booth located at a government school in Bhankarpur village, near here. With a smile, on his face, he shows his photo identity card to the polling staff, requesting them to allow him to cast his vote by pressing the button of an electronic voting machine (EVM) placed at the booth. He is enthusiastic about using the identity card and EVM for the first time.

However, his enthusiasm disappears as he is told that he cannot vote as his name does not figure in the voter list. He tries to convince the polling officials, but in vain. He leaves the booth disappointed as the officials express their inability in allowing him to go ahead.

Mr Barkha Ram was not alone to face such, situation. Eight members of his family were also unable to vote for the same reason. There were several cases in which persons having photo identity cards could not cast their vote as their names were not there in the voters’ list.

Disappointed voters blamed the district administration and the Election Commission for their woes. They alleged that the inclusion of the bogus votes and deletion of the names of genuine voters from the voters’ lists had assumed the proportions of a big scandal in the state. It required to be probed thoroughly by the authorities concerned, they said.

Mr Gurnam Singh, the Sarpanch of the Bhankarpur village, told The Tribune that nearly 250 persons having photo identity cards could not vote as their names were not in the list. He said his father, Mr Jai Ram Singh, who had been the sarpanch of the village for over 25 years, could not cast his vote today as his name was not in the list. The sarpanch said he had taken up the matter with the authorities concerned but to no avail.

At Dera Bassi, Mr Amit Kumar told this correspondent that he had the identity card but was not allowed to cast his vote for the same reason. Mr Ran Singh also narrated the same story.

Ms Arjani Devi, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Mr Rulda Singh, Ms Tej Kaur and Ms Balwinder Kaur also came to polling booths to cast their vote but had to return without doing so despite having photo identity cards.

Officials concerned told this correspondent that the photo identity cards had been issued just to establish the identity of the voters and these were not guarantee cards for polling the vote.

Even 18 other alternative provision approved by the Election Commission to establish the identity of the voter prove meaningless in absence of the voter’s name from the list, they said.


Snag in EVM: ‘200 denied franchise’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 13
After the detection of an alleged fault by a voter in the electronic voting machine (EVM) at a polling booth in Ratoke village in the Dhanaula Assembly constituency this afternoon, polling was stopped when only 432 votes (out of total 805 votes) were cast here.

According to the sources, when a voter pressed the button of the EVM to cast vote, it did not give the requisite tune showing that the vote had been registered in the EVM. The voter reportedly pressed the button of “cart” symbol which was the election symbol of Baba Tek Singh, the Panthic Morcha candidate. On this the voter raised the issue and the machine was checked. He added that it was found that there was a piece of paper in the button of the EVM which did not allow the EVM to function.

On getting information of this incident, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer Sarvjit Singh, sent the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Sangrur, at the booth to take stock of the situation.

Talking to The Tribune here tonight, Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said the matter had been settled with the consent of polling agents of Baba Tek Singh, and another Independent candidate.

On the other hand, Mr Gian Singh Bhullar, a voter from Ratoke village, talking to The Tribune, tonight, said that as the polling has stopped at 3 p.m., he and 200 other voters were denied the right to exercise franchise.


Border villagers show keen interest
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Hussainiwala, February 13
It was a day of great enthusiasm for people of villages along the Indo-Pak border. Despite possibility of war, they showed keen interest in polling for the state Assembly. Survey of border villages revealed that polling was more than 80 per cent. However, poll percentage in Ferozepore city and Guru Harsahai urban constituencies was 60 per cent.

People set out for the polling booths as early as 7.30 in the morning to cast votes. Long queues were seen at all booths in border villages. Women also had great interest in the polling.

In Kalurani village of independent candidate Comrade Hansa Singh 90 per cent of the people exercised their voting right. Two booths set up at Pojoke village also attracted big rush. Rush of voters was seen at Mamdot, Khai, Tibbi, Gatti Rajoke, Bareke and other villages.

Comrade Hansa Singh told The Tribune that this time it was the maximum rush of voters he had seen in his life in the border villages. People who had not yet come to their homes after being migrated returned to cast their votes.

Mr Rashpal Singh, a resident of village Kishore Singh Wala said that the contest was very interesting this time that made people to vote. Another reason for more people coming to vote this time was favourable to the farmers that dominate the area. It was neither sowing nor harvesting season.

In villages across the Hussainiwala barrage along the Satluj a crowd was seen at the polling booths. Voters did not wait for the supporters of the candidates to transport them for voting but walked, used cycles, tractors and even jeeps and cars for reaching the booths.

Shambhu a resident of Gatti Rajeke village told The Tribune that this was for the first time that all candidates had come to their village to seek votes. The interest shown by all candidates in the campaign in these villages across the Hussainiwala barrage having more than 8500 votes in itself was more than what the people had expected. This influenced the people to come out for voting.

Shiela a resident of Jamalka village said that all parties and even the independent candidates from Ferozepore city constituency had send their supporters to their house with slips marking their vote numbers. Earlier, such things were limited to a few households only.

Polling was peaceful in this region, voters did not reveal their choice.


V-Day plays Cupid for Pak youth
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, February 13
Even as Hindu fundamentalist organisations like the Shiv Sena and VHP raise a hue and cry about Valentine’s day celebrations in the country, neighbouring Pakistan is brimming with joy and enthusiasm the lovers’ day falling on February 14.

The allegations of cultural invasion and cultural corruption made by various groups in India have made little impact in Pakistan despite the anti-western sentiments following the recent attack on Afghanistan.

Consequently, a Pakistani website, which generally offers Haj pilgrimage packages with visits to Mecca, is now offering lots of Valentine specials.

From long-stemmed roses to gold coins, cakes and cookies, chocolate towers to teddies; heart cushions to books, there is a wide range of Valentine gifts, with merchants offering deliveries to the USA and Canada.

Another website offering sweets packages and garlands is all set to woo the net-savvy customers with lovey-dovey gifts. Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore are loaded with these special gift items.

A doctor from Karachi told this correspondent on e-mail that the so-called western concept of lovers’ fever had caught the imagination of youth like never before.

“They are forgetting great figures like Sant Bulley Shah and Sant Shah Latif and running after Saint Valentine,” he quipped.

A few years ago the trend started in a few posh localities of metros, but now it has caught the fancy of small-time shopkeepers and the lower middle class section.

In Karachi, most of these items, including greeting cards, pens, watches, sunglasses and perfumes can be had from big showrooms as well as from smaller shops at non-descript townships.

An accountant from Lahore is surprised and angry at the recent trend. “It’s amazing that despite the anti-American and anti-Christianity wave sweeping Pakistan, a western concept still finds attraction,” he observed. The trend is catching on in other cities like Faislabad, Hyderabad, Quetta and Peshawar as well.


Polling peaceful in Amloh
Our Correspondent

Amloh, February 13
No untoward incident was reported in the 187 polling booths of Amloh (reserve) Assembly segment, and polling sent on peacefully. Poll percentage in the constituency was 51 per cent, according to Mrs Raghbir Kaur Khehra, SDM-cum-Electoral Officer of the constituency.

Meanwhile, nine bottles of liquor and four empty bottles were seized by Mr Rajesh Tripathi, Tehsildar, from the house of Mr Darbara Singh, son of Bhajan Singh of Bhadal Thuha village. The candidate of the Panthik Morcha, Mr Harnek Singh Dhiwana, alleged that the liquor was provided to the voters by the SAD candidate.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarab Hind Akali Dal (SHSAD), and Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, MLA, polled their votes from Tohra and Shahpur villages, respectively, in the constituency.


Villagers boycott polling

Chandigarh, February 13
Residents of Nagri village in Shutrana (reserve) constituency today boycotted polling in protest against the absence of polling booth in their village.

Ram Chand of the CPI is involved in a multi-cornered contest with candidates of the ruling Akali Dal, the Panthic Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party in a field of nine candidates.

Not a single vote was polled in booth number 87 in Jalandhar (central) constituency. It is alleged that the booth, with nearly 2000 voters, all fake, was set up surreptitiously in a lane with a blind end in the Kishangarh locality of the city with an ulterior motive. But when one of strong contender learnt about it, the gameplan fell through and not a single vote could be cast because of vigilance by supporters of the candidate.

Jalandhar Election Tehsildar declined to comment on the non-polling booth but promised to look into the matter. UNI


80 kg poppy husk seized, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 13
The Customs Anti-Smuggling Division last night seized 80 kg of poppy husk near Kandukhera village in Muktsar district. The Deputy Commissioner of the division, Mr S.S. Kahlon, in a press note issued here today, said the customs preventive staff intercepted a jeep and seized 80 kg of poppy husk and arrested its occupants Agrez Singh and Gutej Singh, who revealed that they had bought the stuff from Hanumangarh in Rajasthan to sell it in Punjab.

Earlier, the Customs authorities had sealed a pharmaceutical unit and had arrested its proprietor under the Narcotics and Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act.

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 |