L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


18 candidates left in fray
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Eighteen candidates have been left in the fray for elections to the Ludhiana Parliamentary seat and all of them have been allotted election symbols, according to Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning officer.

He said a total of 22 candidates had filed their nomination papers for the seat. After the scrutiny, the nomination papers of 19 candidates were found in order and as per the guidelines of the Election Commission, nomination papers of covering candidates — Ms Amrit Tiwari, Ms Pawan Deep Kaur and Mr Hardev Singh — were automatically rejected, as the nomination papers of the main candidates were found in order. One candidate, Mr Jagjit Singh, withdrew from the fray today.

Mr Verma also held a meeting with the contesting candidates. Mr Manish Tiwari of the Congress, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon of the SAD and Mr Ravinder Singh of the BSP were the first ones to be allotted respective party symbols. Later, candidates of registered but unrecognised parties were allotted symbols, in which Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia of the Lok Bhalai Party got the car, Mr Manjit Singh of the Bhartiya Gaon Taj Dal aeroplane, Mr Sadho Singh of SP coat, and Ravinder Kumar of the J and K Panthers Party the bungalow.

The remaining candidates were allotted symbols by draw of lots. Dr Janaradhan Parsad Singh got the batman, Mr Mohinder Pal jug, Abdul Shakoor Thind gas cylinder, Mr Rachhpal Singh Gill railway engine, Mr Satnam Singh ceiling fan, Mr Daljinder Singh sewing machine, Mr Jasdev Singh table lamp, Mr Balwant Singh lock and key, Mr Virinder Kumar kite and Mr Bobby the television.

The Deputy Commissioner asked all candidates to adhere to the model code of conduct. He said all arrangements had been made to ensure free and fair elections. Mr Verma added that postal ballots would be sent to 1,821 servicemen and the process would be completed in the next 48 hours.



City Muslims differ with Shahi Imam on supporting BJP
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
Majority of Muslims of the city do not agree with the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, Delhi, Sayed Ahmad Bhukhari, on the issue of supporting the BJP in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Members of the community felt that the Shahi Imam, who urged the Muslim community to support the BJP in the elections, should have reserved comments on such a complex issue.

Reacting to his statement, the Imam of Jama Masjid, Ludhiana, Maulana Habib-u-Rehman, regretted that the Shahi Imam had politicised the great institution he was heading. He pointed out that the Shahi Imam held an important position in the country and his role should have been apolitical. He observed that the Imam should have talked in his personal capacity only and not asked the Muslims to vote for the party.

Maulana Habib-u-Rehman maintained that the Muslims were spread all over the country and they had no uniform demands, needs, preferences and choices. He pointed out that the Muslims of Punjab might not necessarily have similar political views with those of the rest of the country.

Local issues and concerns were paramount and people kept these in mind while casting their ballot.

Maulana Habib-u-Rehman belongs to a nationalist Muslim family, which had opted to stay back in India at the time of partition although most of the Muslims from the city had migrated to Pakistan.

His grandfather was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and other nationalist leaders.

He said the local Muslims would hold a meeting on May 3 to finalise the strategy about their choice of candidates in the state. He said a congregation was being organised on that day. The Maulana would make the final announcement after taking the opinion of the members of the community. Members of the community from all over the state would attend the congregation.

Maulana Habib-u-Rehman observed that the appeal of the Shahi Imam of Delhi would not have any impact in the state or elsewhere in the country. “We do not know what might have been the compulsions and interests of the Shahi Imam to declare support for the BJP, but we are sure about what we should do”, he asserted, adding, “we cannot be guided and misguided by somebody who does not have any idea about our problems.”



Tiwari trains guns on SAD-BJP policies
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
The Congress candidate from the Ludhiana Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Manish Tiwari, today made scathing attacks on the ‘anti-people’ policies of the NDA Government at the Centre and the SAD leadership in Punjab for politics of confrontation to distract voters during election meetings organised in Hans Kalan, Kolar, Pabbian, Malak, Chimna, Rasoolpur, Jarri and Bhamel villages in Jagraon assembly segment.

Mr Tiwari was weighed against coins and ‘laddoos’ at various places during his whirlwind election tour.

He said rather than making tall promises, he believed in performing so that the voters could feel proud over their choice. “I have vowed to make Ludhiana a model city with prominence at the national level and I shall fulfill this promise with hard work and determination on my part and cooperation of the people of the mega city.”

Mr Tiwari said he had put his cards before the electorate and now it was up to them to decide whether they would pledge their support to the Congress party, which had deep roots in the entire country, right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, or they would choose between the Akali Dal which existed between Rajpura and Amritsar or the Lok Bhalai Party which stretched from Jagraon to Neelon Bridge only.

Expressing his grave concern over the deteriorating condition of the farming community as a result of unrealistic and retrograde policies of the NDA Government, he said it was unfortunate that the Punjab farmers, which produced foodgrains for a major part of the country, were forced to commit suicide under the increasing debt burden.

Mr Satnam Ahuja, councillor, Mr Manpreet Grewal, block president, Mr Raj Kumar Bhatti and Mr Manoj Rawal organised election meetings in New Shivpuri, Daresi Chowk, Balmiki Mohalla and Basti Jodhewal localities to canvass support for Congress nominee.

Addressing the meetings, Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, Mr Rakesh Pandey, sought the support of the people for the Congress party so that it could provide a stable and clean governance at the Centre. He assured the voters that Mr Tiwari would prove to be a true representative of the masses and raise problems of various sections of the people in Lok Sabha. Mr Ramesh Joshi, Mr Parminder Mehta, secretaries of PPCC, Mr Sunder Lal Mehta, vice chairman, PPCC Labour Cell, Mr Shiv K. Gupta, general secretary, INTUC and Hakim Qazi Shaukat Ali, secretary, PPCC Labour Cell, among others, were present.

A delegation of Northern Zone Insurance Employees Association, comprising representatives from local offices of LIC of India, made a representation to Mr Manish Tiwari, asking him to take up the cause of over 10 lakh agents of the public sector insurance companies and safeguard the interests of around 15 crore policy holders.

Meanwhile, in a bid to give a boost to the election campaign of SAD-BJP candidate, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, the East Mandal unit of BJP held a massive rally in Vishwakarma Chowk which was presided over by Mr Sat Pal Saggar. Speaking at the occasion, Mr Dhillon maintained that the alliance of the two parties was not merely political but it was forged in the large interests of the people. He said he was committed to safeguard the economic and political interests of the state and would raise his voice with full force in Parliament.

Continuing his election campaign, Mr Dhillon met the students of Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College in the morning and later addressed election meetings in more than one dozen villages, including Ghawaddi, Umedpur, Sahnewal, Gobindgarh, Mangli Nechi, Mundian Khurd, Kakka, Dhaula, Ravat, Khwajke, Seerha, Meharban, Jangirpur and Dhandari Khurd.

In another related development, the Labour Cell of Janata Dal (United) has declared its support to SAD-BJP candidate Mr Dhillon, saying the party functionaries had been directed to participate actively in the election campaign.



BJP workers yet to support Dhillon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
All is not well with the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Ludhiana. It is learnt that most of the BJP workers are still maintaining a distance from the alliance candidate from the Ludhiana parliamentary constituency, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon. This has led to some Akali leaders even having complained to the party leadership.

It is learnt that the BJP leadership has also taken serious note of the issue and directed its cadres to ensure that they participate in Mr Dhillon’s campaign wholeheartedly. In a damage control exercise, the party is learnt to have specially deputed the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Ms Uma Bharti, here to give a boost to the campaign of Mr Dhillon. She will be visiting Ludhiana tomorrow.

Mr Dhillon may not need the BJP support in the predominantly Akali-dominated rural areas, but he is feeling handicapped in the urban Hindu-dominated areas in the absence of the BJP leaders.

The Akali-BJP candidate hopes to cash in on Ms Bharti’s visit to the city tomorrow. Besides appealing to the Hindu constituency, her visit would also imply that the BJP was supporting Mr Dhillon. 



SAD won’t keep promises: Ramoowalia
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
The Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) chief, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, has claimed to have gained much ground with a series of election meetings held both in the urban and rural areas of the constituency.

Addressing party activists and voters at a meeting in the party office here today, Mr Ramoowalia charged SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal with misguiding the electorate with promises of free power and water and abolition of octroi. He said when in power the SAD leaders, including Mr Badal, had ignored the territorial claims of Punjab. In spite of being an ally of the ruling NDA, the Akalis had failed to raise the genuine demands of the state in Parliament, he added.

“The erstwhile SAD-BJP government failed to secure any assistance for the crisis-ridden industry and tackle the problem of unemployment. Now these parties are trying to woo the electorate with false promises,” Mr Ramoowalia said.

He said if the voters posed their trust in him, he would strive to make Ludhiana a model city like Chandigarh. The city would have a passport office and the international airport at Amritsar would be further modernised.

Mr Jagjit Singh Lopon, election in-charge of the LBP, and Dr Balwant Sangha, a senior party leader, claimed the party had received “tremendous response” to the call given by Mr Ramoowalia to reject both the Congress and the SAD.

A delegation led by Ms Jastinder Kaur, vice-president of the Mahila Shakti Wing, went door to door in Krishna Nagar, Maya Nagar, Maharaj Nagar, Gobind Nagar and Sarabha Nagar localities to campaign for the party. She promised to provide clean drinking water and better health services and roads in the city. The delegation also stressed the need for a foolproof mechanism to curb crime against women.



Ramoowalia ‘defeats’ Tiwari, Dhillon
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
In the euphoria of just-concluded cricket series between archrivals India and Pakistan, residents of Sherpur Khurd locality, on the periphery of the city, evolved a novel way to decide about the party they would vote for in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

They organised a cricket tournament between three different teams named after main contestants — Mr Manish Tiwari (Congress), Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon (SAD-BJP) and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia (LBP) — on Sunday in which Ramoowalia Club emerged winner.

According to Mr Kuldip Singh Hedlee, organiser, Tiwari Club lost both their matches against Dhillon Club and Ramoowalia Club and were eliminated in the second round.



Galib supporters meet Cong observer
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
Local Congress workers have told the party observer, Mr R.K. Rathore, that the election campaign of the Congress candidate from the Lok Sabha seat, Mr Manish Tiwari, is still disorganised and needs to be revamped in order to retain the seat.

Mr Rathore who was accompanied by Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, visited Ludhiana, besides Jalandhar and Phillaur, yesterday and met some local Congress leaders and workers to assess the situation.

Supporters of Mr Gurcharan Singh Galib, who was denied the party ticket, alleged that despite the support extended by Mr Galib to the Congress candidate in the presence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, his opponents were working against him and indulging in mudslinging. They said the services of Mr Galib towards the party must be recognised.

They urged that Mr Galib be either made the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee or a Rajya Sabha member.



Bank staff sore over poll duty
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 26
About 100 employees of various nationalised banks in Ludhiana are sore over the way they are being treated by the local administration in connection with the election-related duty. They said they were supposed to perform duty on the day of polling or at least a day or two in advance. But much to their surprise and dismay they had been told to report at the office of the Returning Officer daily till the completion of the electoral process. It was for the first time that bank employees, including officers, had been asked to perform election duty.

Some of the employees told The Tribune today that they were asked to report to the Returning Officer on April 17. “Initially we thought that we would be supposed to perform duty on the election day or a day in advance, but now we have been told to come to the Returning Officer’s office daily”, said an officer.

The employees and officers of these banks have been asked to perform petty jobs like counting posters of a candidate in a particular area. A manager of a leading bank disclosed that he was asked to count the posters in one of the assembly segments in the constituency. He pointed out that was the job could be easily performed by anyone and not necessarily by a professional who had put in over 35 years of service and was at the verge of retirement. Moreover, the employees said the work in the banks was also suffering.

While none of the bank employees wanted to be identified, they appealed to the Deputy Commissioner, who is also the Returning Officer, to ensure that their time was not wasted and they were assigned only such duties which suited their positions. The employees disclosed that they were not even offered any refreshments and they had to arrange everything of their own.



Crime branch begins probe into Siahar violence
Kanchan Vasdev and Mahesh Sharma
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana/Siahar, April 26
Upholding the plea of the trustees of the Sri Nanaksar Ashram Thath at Siahar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has handed over the inquiry to the crime branch of the Punjab police to look into the clash that took place on October 11 in which one person was killed and nine injured at the ashram.

The Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch), Mr Harbhaj Singh, has already initiated the inquiry. The SP, talking to The Tribune over the phone, said he had summoned certain documents in this regard and would soon inquire into the whole matter.

The trustees of the Nanaksar Ashram Trust, headed by Baba Harnek Singh, had moved the high court, pleading an inquiry into the case, which was accepted. The thath at Siahar has been involved in controversy for the past several months. Two factions, headed Baba Mann Singh, one of the sons of the founder of the trust, and Baba Harnek Singh, have been trying to take over the control of the main temple of the trust at Siahar.

The dispute turned violent on October 11, 2003, when the two warring groups clashed, leading to nine persons, including three police personnel, getting injured, one of whom died on December 25. Thirtyfive persons, having alliance with the Mann Singh faction, were arrested and later released on bail. The police had registered a case under Sections 307, 382, 379, 323, 427, 148 and 149 of the IPC, which was later converted to Sections 302 and 160, IPC, against 43 persons. All of these were residents of the village and supporters of the three sons of the late sant who founded the thath and later joined the Nanaksar sect. The three sons, Mann Singh, Sewa Singh and Harchand Singh, were also rounded up and are still in police custody.

The villagers had been demanding the control of the dera be handed over to Baba Mann Singh. The other group, headed by Baba Harnek Singh, contended that the late Sant Meehan Singh had given his gaddi to him and not to his sons a decade ago.

Much is at stake in the controversy. The control of the dera involves 7,000 acres of land in Canada besides several thousand acres in Punjab and elsewhere in India.

At present, Swami Kanwaljit (in charge of the Asian group), Mann Singh, Govinder Singh and Surjit Singh Jodhan are members of the trust headed by Harnek Singh. The number of followers of the sect is in lakhs, including foreigners and VIPs. The thath functioning was normal till September 11, when the present management allegedly got the rooms vacated, which were till then occupied by Mann Singh, Sewa Singh and Harchand Singh (sons of late Baba Meehan Singh).

This had angered the villagers. Mr Kamaljit Singh, sarpanch, had been saying that the villagers viewed the development as an insult to the sons of the late sant. The three sons of Baba Meehan Singh, settled in Canada, had come to India in October.

Both the groups level allegations and counter-allegations against each other. While villagers accuse Baba Harnek Singh of misconduct, including drinking, the three sons are being accused of trying to grab the property of the dera.



No check on encroachments

Ludhiana, April 26
Roadside encroachments in the city have touched an all-time high, thanks to the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll and the lackadaisical approach of the local civic body toward the nagging problem.

Though encroachments on footpaths by roadside vendors, both within the old city limits and colonies comprising outer Ludhiana, is an old phenomenon, the same are burgeoning by the day.

Roadside encroachers in the city have been enjoying political patronage of one kind or the other for ages, with the result that encroachers have gained a strong foothold in the city. The city’s experience with various anti-encroachment drives launched from time to time in the past by various commissioners of the Municipal Corporation as well as Deputy Commissioners is enough to vouch for the fact. The Municipal Corporation had unsuccessfully tried to remove permanent encroachments on public land in the city in the wake of Punjab and Haryana High Court’s orders some time back. Demolitions were carried out in some areas but the encroachers who mattered were not touched at all. This failure on the part of the Municipal Corporation, particularly in view of the High Court orders, has further encouraged encroachments. Interestingly, no Lok Sabha candidate contesting from the city has promised the city voters wider bazars or encroachment-free zones.

Observers are of the view that such a stand would result in only harming the poll prospects of a candidate. Since there is no political will to put an end to the menace of roadside encroachments, more people are taking to establishing a roadside enterprise of one kind or the other.

Roadside soft drink stalls selling yogurt, lemonade, etc. have come up at every nook and cranny of the city apart from a host of other pushcarts selling other summer favourites.

Little roadside markets comprising stationary “rehris” and kiosks, which have cropped up in the Focal Point and other under-developed areas of the outer city, are flourishing. As long as the Focal Point area fell under PUDA, roadside vendors in the area remained apprehensive of a PUDA action. But once the area was transferred to the Municipal Corporation about three years ago, these roadside encroachers were unofficially regularised by officials of the Tehbazari Department.



Website on Punjabi culture launched
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
A literary meeting was organised by the Punjabi Culture Study Circle International (PCSCI) to launch its website, www.punjabiphulkari.com, at Punjabi Bhavan here today.

The chief guest, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, inaugurated the website. A demonstration of the website was also arranged. Students of the local Mrs Satyavati Oswal Senior Secondary School presented a song prepared for the occasion.

The PCSCI coordinator, Dr Jagtar Dhiman, highlighted salient features of the website, saying it was a device to establish contact with distant audiences. Ms Manu Sharma Sohal, chief coordinator, spoke of the activities of the PCSCI in the areas of literary research, talent hunt, assessment of cultural pollution in Punjab and interaction with similar bodies internationally.

Mr Jassowal appreciated the efforts made by the PCSCI team, especially Dr Dhiman and Ms Sohal, in developing the website. “It is an attempt to help Punjabis settled all over the world to understand the emerging necessities of Punjabiat in the 21st century,” he said.

He urged the NRIs to support the efforts being made for the common cause of Punjabiat. The cultural departments too should perform a role in the promotion of Punjabi culture, heritage and values, he said.

On the occasion, various literary and cultural figures, including Mr Jassowal, Mr Panchhi, Prof Niranjan Tasneem, Dr Ajit Singh Sikka and Mr N. S. Nanda, were honoured. The contribution of literary magazines Tannu and Rajni and Music Times were also recognised.

Mementoes were also presented to cinematographer Joginder Kalsi, singer Manjit Singh, Dr Karnail Kalsi and Mr Gurdeep Pandher for their contribution to the cause of Punjabiat.

The guest of honour, Mr Joginder Kalsi of Visions of Punjab, Canada, said in the age of information technology, the organisations that connected to the rest of the world through modern means would be able to serve society better.

Dr Surjit Patar, president of the Punjab Sahit Akademi, appreciated the efforts of the PCSCI in assessing cultural pollution in Punjab. He said the website launched today would serve as a useful resource for researchers.

Representatives of various literary and social organisations, including Sirjandhara, Lok Kala Manch, Kendri Lekhak Sabha, Punjabi Sahit Akademi, Goshti, Dhan Potohar Brotherhood Society, Professor Mohan Singh Foundation, PAU Sahit Sabha and ramgarhiakom.com, were present at the function.



2 booked for fraud, slander
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 26
Two local residents, Bhupinder Singh and Romila, have been booked for fraud and making caste-based derogatory remarks against Mr Vijay Kumar Gill, a resident of Phillaur. In a case registered under Sections 420, 406, and 506 of the IPC and Section 3 of the SC and ST (Prevention of Untouchability) Act, the accused have been charged with taking Rs 4 lakh from the complainant on the pretext of sending him to the USA and later refused to return the money after failing to get a valid visa for immigration for him.

According to Mr Gill, he met the accused through the owner of a reputed sweet shop in the city. He alleged that Bhupinder Singh, who claimed that his son was settled in the USA, assured to procure a visa to send him to the USA as he knew quite a few persons in the US embassy. The deal was struck at Rs 6 lakh and the complainant paid Rs 4 lakh in advance in May, 2002 with the promise that he would pay the balance amount after his visa was cleared.

The complainant said his application for immigration to the USA was rejected and he met the accused many a times asking them either to get his visa cleared or refund the money but to no avail. Ultimately, Bhupinder Singh issued a post-dated cheque for Rs 4 lakh in December 2002 with another promise that he would soon arrange the visa for the complainant and there would be no need to encash the cheque.

After a wait of more than a year, the complainant, along with a few other persons met the Bhupinder Singh earlier this month and demanded his money back. He alleged that the accused lost temper and not only manhandled him but also made caste-based derogatory remarks and threatened to kill him if he ever dared to enter his house again.


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