Tuesday, May 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Chase begins for Mayor’s post
Tribune News Service

Nahar Singh Gill, Surjit Singh Ahluwalia, Prem Mittal

Ludhiana, May 20
After the Congress emerged victorious in Sunday’s elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, all eyes are now on the election of the Mayor. With the Congress getting absolute majority, the party will not need any outside support for getting its candidate elected to the post. However, the task may be little difficult for the party, as there are many claimants for the post of the Mayor.

It would be for the first time that the Congress would be able to appoint its Mayor in Ludhiana. In the first MC elections held in 1992, the Congress had allied with the BJP. Chaudhary Sat Prakash of the BJP was appointed the first Mayor of the city at that time. In 1997, the BJP contested elections in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal. The SAD-B bagged more seats than the BJP and its candidate, Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, was appointed Mayor.

There are three main contenders for the post of Mayor in the Congress. They include, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, Mr Surjit Singh Ahluwalia and Mr Prem Mittal. All three have their own claims to the post. Mr Gill is one of the senior leaders of the party in the state having served as general secretary of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) for a long time.

Mr Gill also enjoys considerable influence with the senior party leadership, including the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Local MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib and some of the local legislators, besides the District Congress Committee (DCC) president, Mr K.K. Bawa are likely to support his candidature for the post of Mayor. Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, MLA from Ludhiana Rural, is likely to oppose him. Whether his opposition will hold any weight remains to be seen.

Mr Ahluwalia, another main contender for the post of Mayor, has been elected to the MC for the third consecutive term. In the previous house, he was leader of the Congress councillors in the house. Although a strong claimant for the Mayor’s post, he does not enjoy much political patronage from the senior party leadership. All these years he has restricted himself to the local-level politics only.

He may not have cultivated senior patrons for himself in the party high command, yet he may benefit from the opposition against Mr Gill within the party. There is a strong section of the party which is not in favour of appointing Mr Gill as the Mayor. This section, although subdued, may pronounce and articulate its opposition to Mr Gill by supporting Mr Ahluwalia only.

Mr Prem Mittal is also a contender for the post of Mayor. He has always maintained a low profile and remained non-controversial. Although he does not have any pronounced and vocal support in the party, which could help him this time, there are people who would prefer him to be the Mayor for his more or less neutral stand within the party. He served as Deputy Mayor in the first Municipal Council from 1992 to 1997. 



Many rebels haunt Congress
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
Quite contrary to the expectations of a massive sweep, the Congress merely managed to limp to victory in the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation elections, with the party being able to win just 37 of the 70 seats. The party was expecting to win at least 50 seats in Ludhiana, particularly after its spectacular performance in the Assembly elections held recently.

Although at one stage it seemed that the Congress may sweep the MC poll in Ludhiana, its traditional stronghold, however, the later development starting from the selection process of the candidates created doubts over the Congress performance in everybody’s mind. Even the leaders were themselves quite apprehensive about the less than expected performance. And the apprehensions came true, with party barely managing the absolute majority of its own.

The Congress expelled 21 rebels who were contesting against the official candidates in 21 different wards. While the party won from 15 of these 21 wards despite the presence of rebels, it lost six important wards because of the rebel factor only. In other wards also the dissidents damaged the prospects of the official candidates.

Senior party leaders in the district have also been admitting that the indifference of some senior leaders and their absence from the campaign could also be one of the important factors. “Their absence was significant. Had they been present their supporters would also have joined the campaign and generated a great momentum which was otherwise missing”, a senior party leader pointed out.

And these leaders had their own reasons to “maintain a distance” from the party campaign. One of the important factors was the wrong selection of candidates against the wishes of some legislators. Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi, MLA from the Ludhiana Rural, and Mr Rakesh Pandey, MLA from the Ludhiana North and the Minister of State for Stationery and Printing, were not happy with the selection process. Both of them kept away from the meetings of the selection committee.

There are 34 wards in the Ludhiana Rural Assembly segment represented by Mr Birmi. His supporters said had he been taken into confidence during the selections process the results would have been entirely different. But luckily for the party it has managed a majority in the House, although it may be only a slim majority. 



New MC House to have several first-timers
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 20
With the Congress adding to its strength and barely managing a simple majority in the MC House of 70 in the civic elections held in the mega city on May 19, the decks have been cleared for the city to have a Congress Mayor for the first time since the inception of the Municipal Corporation in 1992.

In the final tally, the Congress won 36 seats, followed by SAD (B) with 10, BJP (9), BSP (2) and Independents 13. The ward No 20 seats, where the SAD (B) and Congress candidates were tied with 1900 votes each, ultimately went in favour of the Congress nominee in a recounting of votes. In the outgoing House, the ruling SAD-BJP combine had 38 seats while the Congress had 16 councillors. The BSP (2) retained both of its seats while Independent candidates also nearly maintained their strength.

While the Congress retained 14 of its 16 seats in the present House, it wrested 8 seats each from the SAD-BJP combine while six Independents had to concede their place to Congress candidates. Similarly, the party did not suffer any major upset and most of the sitting councillors as well the main contenders for the post of the city Mayor coasted towards comfortable wins, the erstwhile ruling alliance saw veterans like Mr Kulwant Singh Dukhia of SAD (B), a councillor for the last 38 years, and the likes of Mr Pran Bhatia, group leader of the BJP councillors and the fire brand BJP activist, Mr Sunil Mehra licking dust at the hands of Congress candidates.

There will be quite a few first-timers in the new MC House belonging to almost all the major parties along with the old timers like Mr Surjit Singh Ahluwalia, Mr Jai Parkash, Mr Madan Lal Bagga, Mr Balkar Singh, Mr Bharat Bhushan Ashu and Mr Sat Pal Puri of the Congress, Mr Hakam Singh Giaspura and Mr Swarn Singh Maholi of SAD(B) along with Mr Rajiv Katna and Mr Parveen Bansal of the BJP. Mr Nahar Singh Gill and Mr Prem Mittal, both from the Congress, were elected to the MC in 1992 and would be seen in the next House after a gap of five years.

Interestingly, women candidates turned out to be the mainstay of the BJP which would find itself shrunk to half in the next House.



Congress leaves Mayor issue to high command
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
In order to avoid any possible confrontation on the issue of selection of Mayor, the District Congress Committee (DCC) today left the decision to the party high command saying whatever was decided by them would be acceptable to all.

A meeting of the newly-elected councillors of the party was held here today under the chairmanship of the DCC president, Mr K.K. Bawa. Besides the councillors, all city legislators including, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Mr Surinder Dawer, Mr Rakesh Pandey, Mr Milkiat Singh Birmi and Mr Milkiat Singh Dakha attended the meeting.

According to Mr Bawa, the newly-elected councillors were felicitated by the senior-most legislator and former minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar. Mr Johar exhorted upon them to fulfil the expectations of the people. The councillors assured those gathered that they would stick to the party programme and ensure that the city was put on the road to development.

Addressing the meeting, senior party leader and Ludhiana MP, Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, congratulated all members for their success and said that their victory was the vindication of the programme adopted by the party under the dynamic leadership of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.



PHRC to the rescue of dowry victim
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has come to the rescue of a city-based transporter, Mewa Singh, in an alleged dowry harassment case of his daughter at the hands of her NRI in-laws in the USA by restraining the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ludhiana from submitting a controversial inquiry report by the ADGP (Crime) in a court of law.

Strange ways of the Punjab Police in conducting investigations into a crime case stand exposed in this unique case of dowry harassment of the girl of the transporter. While the Ludhiana police has already put up challans against the NRI in-laws in the case, the ADGP (Crime) Punjab has, in a parallel inquiry, conducted in the case by a DSP (women cell) Punjab, directed the SSP Ludhiana to submit application of cancellation of the case, as the inquiry by the DSP absolves most of the accused of the charges.

The PHRC has, vide orders issued on May 16 last on complaint no. 1782/2002, restrained the submitting of the controversial inquiry report while accepting a petition filed by advocate Charanjit Singh Bakshi on behalf of the complainant in the case. Another surprising aspect of the case was that the ADGP recommended cancellation of the original FIR vide a letter written to the SSP Ludhiana even though the PHRC had through its orders dated March 11, 2002, directed any concerned authority to submit any further report in the case.

The case came to light in December 1999 for the first time, when Simarjit Kaur, daughter of Mewa Singh was married to an NRI, Sarbjit Singh. However, the girl was allegedly subjected to harassment at the hands of her in-laws. The harassment continued when she went to the USA with them and she was ultimately thrown out of the house. She was protected by some family friends of her father, and is presently in the USA.

Her father filed an FIR in the Sarabha Nagar police station when a number of family members of the in-laws, barring the bridegroom, had come to India. A case against the bridegroom, Sarbjit Singh, father-in-law, Surinder Singh, mother-in-law, Charanjit Kaur, sister-in-law, Maninder Kaur Gill, was registered. All of them were subsequently released on bail.

An inquiry by DSP Gurmel Singh and SP Arunpal Singh at Ludhiana indicted the in-laws. On the inquiry report by the latter, the Ludhiana police had put up the challans.

Meanwhile, the complainant through some sources had learnt that some changes were being done in the first inquiry report submitted by DSP Gurmel Singh. He approached the Punjab Human Rights Commission in May 2001, complaining that the local police was helping the accused party in the dowry case. The commission had then directed the IG (Litigation) Punjab to furnish a report. The IG (Litigation) directed the DSP (Crime) to conduct an inquiry.

Meanwhile, SP (Traffic) Arunpal Singh submitted his inquiry report at which the Ludhiana police put up the challans. Mr Charanjit Bakshi, advocate of the complainant, put up an application before the PHRC, saying that no fresh inquiry report was required. The PHRC gave a verdict in his favour. However, the ADGP (Crime) went ahead with the case in violation of the commission orders.



Several takers for Lodhi Fort
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The vacant prime land of the historical Lodhi Fort near Daresi Grounds is attracting several takers. While the Knitwear Club and the National Institute of Fashion Designing had already been lobbying hard for getting the land on lease, authorities of Punjab Police Academy at Phillaur have also written to the state government to transfer the dilapidated Lodhi Fort to them. Meanwhile, the State Archaeology Department has also set its sight on the fort and want to declare it as a protected monument.

Claiming that the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Fort at Phillaur was being well maintained by them as the PPA, Phillaur was housed in it, the authorities have written to the state government that they can manage the fort better the others. Mr G.S. Aujla ADGP and Director Phillaur Academy, told Ludhiana Tribune that the Academy was conserving the Phillaur Fort well and could protect the prime government land and put it to better use than others. He said Reserve Battalions of the Punjab Police can be housed in the dilapidated fort building.

The ADGP interested in history and his articles on the subject have been published widely. He said he was pained at the deteriorated condition of the fort, especially of the several century old canons which were lying half-buried in the fort.

Meanwhile, informed sources said the Archaeological Survey of India has also mooted a proposal to acquire the land, stating it was a protected monument. The Union Government is yet to take a final decision on the proposal. The ASI has a strong case as under a government ruling, any building of historical importance which is over a hundred years old should be declared a protected monument.

With these two new claimants, the Lodhi fort, which was lying abandoned and uncared for all these years is suddenly becoming the cynosure of several eyes. The Knitwear Club Ludhiana along with NIFD had already been training their guns to acquire the land. It had mooted a proposal to the district administration last year but the district administration had turned down the proposal stating the fort needed to be preserved.

There were also reports that an Akali leader had been eyeing the prime property and wanted to grab it. None of these moves materialised and the fort remained abandoned. The Club and NIFD had now ‘roped’ in a Union Minister to lobby for the prime land.



Another feat by Kailey
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 20
Pavan Kailey, a school dropout and tailor from Garayan, has come out with a new invention. He has created a photo album, measuring slightly less than 6 inches.

Pavan, who loves to work at night, says that all his original ideas strike him between 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. Kailey says,” When I get an idea, I start working on it. The next day I start executing my idea with a feverish pitch and utmost concentration. The idea of album came to me because I wanted to put all photos of my experiments in the album.”

The album is carried in a small box and has 38 photographs of the extraordinary clothes that he has made. These can be worn as jackets, trousers etc. His invention of a jacket that could be worn 9800 times and a trouser that could be worn in 10 different styles gained him entry in the Limca Book of Records. His unique paper kite that could pass through the eye of needle, his skillful threading of 84 threads in the eye of the needle, balancing of eggs atop one another, 2 inches night suit that may make him enter the Guinness Book of World Records and many more such inventions have been photographed, laminated by cutting big sheets to size and covered them with plastic sheet.

To prove the authenticity of the size of his album, he had it photographed by placing it on a one-rupee coin.



Tourist hit by vehicle, killed
Our Correspondent

Lalru, May 20
A Tamil Nadu-based tourist, R. Mukam, was killed by an unidentified vehicle on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, 1 km from here, yesterday morning.

Sources in the police said Mr Mukam along with his family and other fellow tourists were on their way back to home town from Shimla. 



Former Deputy Mayor booked for poll violence
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 20
The district police has booked a former Deputy Mayor of the local Municipal Corporation, a General Secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, an Independent candidate, along with several of their workers on charges of indulging in violence or obstructing police or government officials from doing their duty during yesterday’s MC poll in the city.

Besides these, a number of candidates or their workers have been booked for distributing liquor in violation of the orders of the District Magistrate.

According to an FIR registered under Sections 323, 341 and 506 IPC against Ashok Prashar alias Pappi Shahpuria, he has been booked for allegedly stopping and threatening the complainant Ashwani Kharbanda in a colony under Division Nomber 2 police station.

On the complaint of ASI Jatinder Pal Singh, who was on election duty, the Division Nomber 4 police has booked an Independent candidate Dalip Kumar, his supporters Maheshi Sharma, Datwas and several other unidentified persons for obstructing and threatening the police official and civic officials on poll duty.

The Division Nomber 5 police has also booked a man, Ashq Sahi, and several other unidentified persons on the charges of pelting stones on a procession of the Congress party. A political worker, Gurdial Singh, has been booked by the Shimla Puri police for distributing or carrying wine bottles in violation of the orders of the District Magistrate.



Woman commits suicide, in-laws booked
Our Correspondent

Machhiwara, May 20
A married woman of Akalgarh village committed suicide yesterday.
The cause of the suicide is reported to be a clash between Gurpreet Kaur, the victim, and her husband, Sarbjeet, over some matter yesterday. She consumed some poisonous substance. She was given medical help at Machhiwara from where she was referred to the CMC, Ludhiana, where she died in the evening.

On the statement of Mr Kulwant Singh, father of the victim, the local police registered a case under Sections 304-B, 498-A and 34 of the IPC against her husband, Sarbjeet, her father-in-law, Suba Singh, and her mother-in-law, Gurmeet Kaur, last night.

According to the SHO, Mr Dilbag Singh, the body was handed over to her parents after a post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, today.

Bid to rape widow:
On the statement of a widow of Behbal Pur village, near here, the Bhadson police has registered a case under Sections 376, 323, 506 and 452 of the IPC against Kuldeep Singh, alias Bhola (22), of the same village.

It was alleged in the FIR that on May 15 Kuldeep tried to rape her. On her resistance, the accused inflicted injuries on her body and overpowered her. According to the sarpanch of the village, Mr Mohinder Singh, she has been admitted to the Civil Hospital, Nabha.


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