L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S


Setback to Cong in civic bypoll
SAD-backed candidate wrests Ward No. 66
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 18
In a major setback to the Congress, Independent candidate Ajit Singh Dhillon, supported by the Shiromani Akali Dal, walked away with Ward 66, where byelection was held today.

Congress candidate Subash Taina finished a poor third behind BJP candidate Charanjit Bhargava. The final figures were yet to come.

The byelection to the Ward was necessitated after the disqualification of sitting Congress councillor Satpal Puri.

Mr Dhillon, who was earlier propped up by the SAD, contested as an Independent after the BJP refused to concede the Ward to the SAD.

The SAD had been insisting that Mr Dhillon was in a better position to win and the BJP had never performed well in this Ward.

However, during the alliance, Ward No. 66 had been allotted to the BJP and the party did not want to part with the Ward, particularly when it hoped that the resentment against the Congress would help its candidate to sail through.

But the SAD played spoilsport. While they claimed to support the BJP candidate, the signal to the voters was too obvious as none of the SAD leaders campaigned for the BJP candidate.

Moreover, there was brisk polling in the areas considered to be SAD bastions as compared to the urban areas, with good concentration of urban voters usually supporting the Congress or the BJP.

Even the last-minute entry of ousted councillor Satpal Puri into the BJP did not help the party candidate much.

Mr Dhillon had been campaigning in the area for some time, much before the election process started.

Also, the support of the senior Akali leadership also helped him. He also got support from estranged Congress workers opposed to the nomination of Mr Taina, who did not have any experience in the party.

The Akali leaders remained tightlipped about the victory of the candidate whom they supported wholeheartedly.

There were murmurs of resentment against the alliance partners among the BJP leadership. But nobody was prepared to come on record.

The party leaders regretted that the SAD leadership of the city had set a bad precedent. A BJP leader felt that it was a straight betrayal of the coalition dharma.

The Congress also tried to put up a brave front. Mayor Nahar Singh Gill, who was the in-charge of the campaign for Mr Taina, said the party would go for an introspection.

He said his party respected the verdict of the people. He pointed out that much against the charges and allegations of malpractices, the Congress government had allowed free and fair poll.

He said the reasons for the defeat would be looked into and remedial measures would be taken.

He refused to comment whether insiders were also responsible for the defeat of the party candidate.

He said: “I think everybody tried his best to ensure the victory of Mr Taina, but it is the people who decide at the end.” 



Malaud civic poll results
Our Correspondent

Doraha, September 18
Seven Akali and four Congress candidates won the Malaud MC poll held today.
They are: Ram Singh (SAD) Ward No. 1; Nirmal Singh (SAD) — Ward No. 2; Jasbir Kaur (SAD) — Ward No. 3; Jaspal Singh (Congress) — Ward No. 4; Surjit Singh (Congress) — Ward No. 5; Krishna Devi (Congress) — Ward No. 6; Sanjeev Kumar (SAD) — Ward No. 7; Sanjeev Puri (SAD) — Ward No. 8; Kamaljit Kaur (SAD) — Ward No. 9, Major Singh (SAD) — Ward No. 10; and Darshan Singh (Congress) — Ward No. 11.



95 pc turnout in civic poll
Our Correspondent

Amloh, September 18
Around 90 per cent voters exercised their franchise to elect their representatives from 13 Wards of the town here today. Forty candidates were in the fray.
The polling was held from 8 am to 4 pm. Voters turned out in large numbers in the main bazar.

As many as 13 presiding, 13 alternative presiding and 39 polling officers were appointed besides four supervisors, according to Mr Sandeep Hans, SDM-cum-Returning Officer.

DSP Diljit Singh Rana and SHO Gurdial Singh told mediapersons that the polling was by and large peaceful except for some stray incidents of violence.

The police had to intervene in a clash that broke out between supporters of candidates in ward No. 11.

The counting of votes was held at the polling booths by the presiding officers.

Around 70 per cent votes were polled up to 2 pm. The poll duty staff was appointed from outstation.

The results of winning candidates: Ward No. 1 — Seena Sedha; Ward No. 2 — Harpal Singh; Ward No. 3 — Paramjit Singh; Ward No. 4 — Kamlesh Mittal; Ward No. 5 — Jatinder Singh; Ward No. 6 — Jeewan Kumar Puri; Ward No. 7 — Neena Devi; Ward No. 8 — Harpreet Singh; Ward No. 9 — Balbir Singh; Ward No. 10 —Jaspreet Kaur; Ward No. 11 — Lal Chand; Ward No. 12 — Budh Raj; and Ward No. 13 — Parkash Kaur.



Chemicals, paints worth lakhs destroyed
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 18
Chemicals and paints worth lakhs were reduced to ashes after a godown on the first floor of a paint shop on Shingar Road here caught fire this afternoon.
Being a Sunday, the shop, Gupta Paint Store, was closed and suddenly smoke started bellowing out of the godown. It was spotted by a resident of the area, Mr Sunil Sachdeva, who raised the alarm and informed the fire brigade.

Three fire engines were pressed into service and the fire was finally doused after some hours. Fire officials said it was spreading fast as thinner and other highly inflammable chemicals were stored inside.

While the cause of fire is yet to be ascertained, fire workers said it might have been caused due to short circuit. The exact loss could not be ascertained as the owner of the shop, Mr Narinder Gupta, was still in a state of shock.

Eyewitnesses said the fire spread within minutes and big flames could be seen. The fire officials had a tough time to approach the affected area of the shop. Traffic came to a halt soon after the incident as almost all passersby stopped to have a look at the shop.



Chhapar Mela — white elephant for govt
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 18
Chhapar Mela, a famous rural fair of North India, has proven to be a white elephant for the state government. Fast losing its religious and cultural relevance, it has transformed into a political mega stage and a centre for making uncontrolled fun. Excluding the Government and the visitors, all others concerned are gainers here.

With an average attendance of a million visitors every year, the event has been a source of massive income for many, including the ‘partners’ in the temple and the owners of the land situated surrounding the Guga Mari. The perusal of bank accounts of the individuals and the assets made by the families during the few past years indicate that each partner earned lakhs every year. “But instead of investing the earnings in the development of the religious place, they had been erecting their individual buildings. Social organisations had to come forward to develop the place with contributions from the public,” an anguished villager said. Similarly, the rent fetched on the land goes to the treasuries of individuals or organisations, while the government has to spend lakhs on the management of the fair.

Interestingly, no official from the departments concerned has ever been seen checking the quality and quantity of eatables and other materials sold during the fair. Sales tax officials generally do not allow shopkeepers sell anything without proper billing but the phenomenon is conspicuous by its absence at this fair where business in crores is transacted every year.

Even in the case of entertainment tax, no proper records are maintained as regards the receipt of income.

Meanwhile, the mela swelled up its full capacity today when thousands of activists of various political parties thronged the worship place to participate in conferences of their respective parties besides paying obeisance to Guga.

First rung leaders of various parties, including the Congress, the SAD, the SAD (A), the LBP, the CPI and the CPM addressed conferences here.

Social organisations of the area organised ‘chhabeels’ and ‘langars’ for the devotees. Shri Ram Mandir, The Bhartia Mahavir Dal and the Bharat Vikas Parishad were among the organisations that organised public welfare camps.

Earlier, the police had to deal strictly with miscreants who created hooliganism during the night. Large groups of youths from nearby villages thronged the mela site. Despite ban by the administration, wine was the most sought after thing for the visitors.



Govt to enforce fee structure in medical colleges
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 18
In the wake of utter confusion prevailing in admission and fee structure in medical and dental colleges all over the state, the Punjab Government has made known its intention to strictly enforce the fee structure as fixed by the Justice Majithia Committee, set up on the directions of the Supreme Court.

Indicating this, the Director of Medical Education and Research (DMER), Dr J.S. Dalal, told mediapersons at Circuit House here today that the government was determined to bridle private medical institutions. “Legislative measures are being contemplated in this regard to enforce the stipulated fee in all medical, dental, ayurvedic and homoeopathic colleges as well as nursing institutions.”

Dr Dalal advised all students seeking admission on government quota seats in private medical institutions to make each and every payment against official receipts so that the excess fee charged by the college managements from them could be got refunded or adjusted in subsequent academic years once the legislative mechanism for fee structure was in place.

He said the government would not only ensure that the students were charged the fee strictly in accordance with the recommendations of the Majithia Committee but that the managements would have to pay interest on excess amount collected from the students.

Asked about the fate of nursing institutions which were restrained from making fresh admissions over their failure to fulfil the norms prescribed by the Nursing Council of India and the Punjab Nursing Registration Council, the DMER said a meeting of the nursing institutions in the state was being convened by the council in Chandigarh on September 20 to sort out the matter.

“All institutions that submit an affidavit in the prescribed pro forma of having the required infrastructure and other facilities for nursing students will be allowed to admit new batches.” Dr Dalal maintained that the government was determined to make the nursing institutions fall in line with the directions of the Central and state councils and fulfil all norms necessary to provide quality education to the students.



Passing Thru

Anju Mullick
Anju Mullick, art curator

You have brought the first Art Africa-2005 to Ludhiana. How did you manage it?

I have been living in Kenya for the past two decades, but I always maintained deep relations with my “janam bhoomi” — India. At the same time, I have a deep sense of belonging to my “karam bhoomi” — Kenya. I always wanted to bring the people of the two countries closer and what better way than art? I got the opportunity when Karuna Mahindra, director of TAC Art Gallery, Ludhiana, brought her exhibition of paintings to Kenya. So I thought of brining African art to India.

How will you popularise African art in India?

People will not get much familiar with the African art the first time, but gradually as tourism increases, art will also get popular. We will take this exhibition to prominent cities of the country like Chandigarh, Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai so that it gets a wider exposure.

Do you find any similarities between the people of the two countries?

You will be surprised to know how similar they are to us. They have very strong family bonds. They take excellent care of their elderly. Can you imagine there are no old age homes as they revere the older members of the families. Just like us, they treat guests like God and their hospitality is proverbial. They have a lot of humility.

— Asha Ahuja 



Ludhiana Calling

Photo journalists are often the unsung heroes in the production of a newspaper if the amount of work they have to do for one good shot is considered. With the advent of several newspapers and TV channels in the city, lensmen brush shoulder with each other for special shots. They try to fit in a small place for not missing out on any action. Recently, a Vigilance team was searching an accused’s House behind locked doors. So the ingenuous lensmen scurried with each other for space to take shots through the window grills.

No big deal

Corruption in the Police Department is all pervasive. People take it as an accepted norm. So when a city cop was recently arrested on a graft charge, there were no shockwaves in the city on the catch. However, people were finding it hard to digest the graft amount of few thousand rupees. The amount was considered too less for the rank of the police official. Mediapersons got several calls from people who wanted to confirm if the deal was struck at such a less amount

Green pledge

Women of ward No. 37, motivated by the Guru Kirpa Mission Charitable Trust, have decided to plant one tree each on the premises of their houses. They have been convinced that trees are their saviours as they help conserve the environment.

They have pledged that they will take care of this tree and see that it blossoms. In case they have no space, then they will plant saplings of small trees in big earthen pots.

Rain pain

A downpour in the city a few days ago left many residents stuck up in the deluge. Though many people were caught unawares and were left stranded in waterlogged streets and roads, college girls, riding scooters, had the most difficult time.

Many students of the Khalsa College for Girls, who tried to brace heavy rain, were stranded midway as their scooters broke down. Many vehicles were stranded in the middle of the road opposite the college and it took hours for people to get these repaired.



Intellectuals’ participation in govt formation stressed
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 18
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), has called upon the people to impress upon intellectuals to involve themselves in the process of government formation. This, he said, was necessary to counter land mafia, smugglers, drug peddlers and anti-social elements that had taken over the regime.

Addressing a gathering at Chhapar Mela, he said none of the political parties was serious about the interests of the public.

“The present day leaders, irrespective of their political alliances, were more interested in their own vested interests than doing something for the people. That is the reason intellectuals and philanthropists kept themselves away from the political set-up,” he said.

On the politicisation of religion, he said those who exploited religion for political gains were worse sinners.

Commenting on future of the state, he said it could not improve until the youth was provided proper guidance.

“Unfortunately, illiterate agents, supported by political giants, had been misguiding the youth by alluring them to greener pastures abroad. While the former pocketed lakhs, the later were languishing in jails,” he said.

He urged the state Chief Minister to prepare a list of youths who had been duped by the agents.

On the issue of Chandigarh, the LBP president said the party which would materialise the process would carry a stigma on its face. Moreover, it would give rise to unnecessary unrest in the already disturbed state, he added.

He claimed all sections of society were feeling ignored in the Congress rule. Financial instability was so acute that entrepreneurs were shifting to other places.

Lambasting the SAD, he alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had exploited the sentiments of Sikhs to gain power for his own family.

Mr Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, acting president, Mr Amrik Singh Virpal, SVP, Mr Yodha Singh Mann, general secretary, Mr Gurtek Singh Sidhu, general secretary, Ms Balwinder Kaur, president of the Women Cell, and Mr Mintoo Lotey also spoke on the occasion.



Mann seeks public support
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, September 18
The SAD (A) has appealed to the people of the state to support it so that it could become an effective democratic force, which, according to the party leaders, will usher in an era of peace, progress and prosperity for Punjab.

The appeal was made by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann at a conference held at Chhapar Mela here today.

Branding the leaders of the Congress and the SAD as slaves of the Union Government, he said his party would launch a Panthic front to counter the anti-Punjab activities of both these party.

He alleged that leaders of both these parties had looted the state treasury. “Interesting, Mr Badal lost right to loot the government, he started diverting funds of the SGPC,” said Mr Mann.

He said the budget of the SGPC would collapse by 2007. The committee did not have funds to pay salaries of the employees, he said.

On terrorism, he said the government should institute a commission to ascertain what gave birth to terrorism. He accused the Congress and the SAD of concealing facts about the flow of RDX and arms that had been used to involve Sikh youths in false cases. Mr Charan Singh Lohara, general secretary, Mr Dhian Singh Mand, former MP, Mr Kuldeep Singh Karwal, general secretary of the Youth Wing, also addressed the gathering.



Rs 10 lakh reward for info on Reema
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 18
While the city police is still groping in the dark about the Reema Jain disappearance case, her son has announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh to any persons who traces her or provides some major clue about her whereabouts.

Mr Bhanu Pratap Singh, elder son of the missing socialite and businesswoman, Ms Jain who disappeared two months ago, told Ludhiana Tribune that he had announced the award for getting some news about his missing mother.

Fighting tears, he said he had been left making rounds of the police stations and taking care of his teenage brother and sister. He said though the police had assured that the case would be solved soon, he had announced the award to attract information about his mother.



Keralites celebrate Onam
Our Correspondent

Keralite girls present a dance item during Onam celebrations by the Kerala Kalavedi in Ludhiana on Sunday
Keralite girls present a dance item during Onam celebrations by the Kerala Kalavedi in Ludhiana on Sunday. — Photo by Inderjit Verma

Ludhiana, September 18
Onam was celebrated by the Kerala Kalavedi here today. Thousands of people had gathered to celebrate the festival with traditional fervour.
The Kerala Kalavedi, an association of Keralites, was formed in 1981 with a view to promote cultural programmes, national integration and to provide help and assistance to the needy and the poor as and when required.

The programme started with lighting of a lamp in front of “Attapoovu” designs made using flowers by women and kids. Other attractions of the festival were classical dance, vocal music, mimics, bharatnatyam, kuchipudi, cinematic dances and a magic show by artistes of the Kerala Kalavedi.

Mr Hari V.A., chairman of the Function Committee, said the festival was celebrated in Kerala for 10 days. “But here, we are celebrating it only today. Thousands of people from different are here for the celebrations. We feel as if we are in Kerala. You really do not feel homesick if people around you show love and concern. Next year, we will be celebrating our silver jubilee here,” said Mr Hari.

The main attraction of the programme was the serving of 25 dishes, the traditional Malayalee feast, on banana leaves. “Not only Keralites but other persons also enjoyed the food. The association is also into social service for the uplift of the common masses,” said Mr George N.S., the general secretary of the association.

The artistes performed Onam dance, classical dance, Kuchipudi, Nanadanam, Devadoodar, Thiruvathira, Pushpanjali and record dance. A magic show and a fashion show were also organised.


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