L U D H I A N A   S T O R I E S



SAD bid to win over MS Calcutta fails
KS Chawla

Ludhiana, January 14
In an effort to recoup the sagging position of the Shiromani Akali Dal in Delhi, Mr Parkash Singh Badal made desperate attempts to wean away Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta from the Shiromani Akali Dal faction led by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna.

Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna and his younger brother, Mr Harvinder Singh Sarna, have engaged candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal in a contest in the elections to the general house of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), polling for which is taking place today. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta was expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal by Mr Badal after he raised his voice against the undemocratic way of selecting the candidate for the presidentship of the SGPC and other office-bearers. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta had been the star campaigner of the Sarna brothers in the Delhi gurdwara elections.

Mr Manjit Singh was sent feelers telling him that Mr Badal held him in high esteem and was conscious of his capabilities in political as well as religious affairs of the Sikh mainstream. During the course of lowkey negotiations, effective offers were made to Mr Manjit Singh to contest on the SAD ticket from Amritsar Vidhan Sabha segment. It was also conveyed to him that he could be made chairman of some educational trusts set up by the SGPC. Mr Manjit Singh indicated that he was not averse to any compromise but he spurned all the offers.

To cap all these efforts, Mr Tarlochan Singh, former Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and member of the Rajya Sabha, was deputed to finalise the deal. Mr Tarlochan Singh is an effective negotiator and has friendly relations with Mr Manjit Singh. He put pressure on Mr Manjit Singh to join the Shiromani Akali Dal without any loss of time telling him that if Mr Badal comes to power, he would be marginalised in Sikh politics and consequently go into oblivion. However, Mr Manjit Singh remained cool to all these persuasions.

According to Mr Manjit Singh, efforts were made to engage him in negotiations in order to create misgivings between him and the Sarna brothers and also prevent him from effective campaigning for the candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi. He said he could not betray his friends and leave them in the midst of a grim struggle. On his own he did not think Mr Badal made any sincere efforts at reconciliation.

Mr Manjit Singh says that in all the cases where Mr Badal has won over the ex-Akali workers or splinter group leaders, he has made sure that their identity was wiped out in the process.

Mr Tarlochan Singh when contacted confirmed that he held negotiations with Mr Manjit Singh at the behest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He also confirmed that Mr Manjit Singh was offered the ticket from Amritsar to seek election to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and also chairmanship of the educational trusts of the SGPC.

It is gathered that Mr Manjit Singh was even offered presidentship of the SGPC but with a promise that he would be chosen the next president of the SGPC in November 2007. But Mr Manjit Singh wanted the route to be followed which was taken when rapprochement between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was made in 2004. It may be mentioned here that while negotiating with Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, efforts were also made to rope in Mr Karnail Singh Panjo, a member of the SGPC and a Tohra loyalist. He was also offered some office in the SGPC but he declined the same saying that he had no faith on the assurances and he wanted practical implementation of the offers.

Meanwhile, polling to the general house of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee is taking place today. The Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi, candidates headed by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna are in a comfortable position in a triangular contest. There are three main parties in the fray. Besides the Shiromani Akali Dal, Delhi, the Shrromani Akali Dal led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Akali Dal Panthic led by Mr Manjit Singh, son of late Jathedar Santokh Singh are also contesting. The DSGMC is at present dominated by the Sarna brothers.

Mr Avtar Singh Makkar, president, SGPC, was deputed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal to look after the election campaign in Delhi and he had been campaigning in Delhi for the past one month. The result of the Delhi gurdwara elections is likely to make its impact on the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha next month.

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Factionalism rife in SAD, Cong in Malwa belt
Our Correspondent

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 14
Disloyalty and not fidelity will decide the fate of nominees of various political parties in this belt of Malwa in the coming Assembly elections, say analysts.

Commenting on the trend, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, a political analyst, justified the action of the rebels, saying the policy- makers had been shunning ethics of the system. "When they can ignore merits and sacrifices of the righteous persons of their parties, the neglected leaders have every right to shift loyalties and prove their worth, negative or positive," he argued.

Observations by this reporter revealed that factionalism among regional leaders of the SAD and Congress had resulted in a situation that nobody could predict the results even in those

constituencies which otherwise were stronghold of certain political parties.

Though electorate in the Malerkotla constituency had been crowning candidates from the Congress and SAD alternatively in the past decades, the scenario this time is unclear, courtesy infighting among various factions of SAD. The Dhindsa and Barnala factions stood further divided on the issue of the allocation of tickets. Though Sardar Ali Dara was the main contender for the ticket, there were at least four strong aspirants among Dhindsa loyalists.

In the Kilaraipur Assembly segment, which was known as a SAD stronghold, the Congress seems to have widened its base considerably during the past years. But the path to victory is not so smooth for any of the two main giants - Garchas and Khanguras. "It is quite obvious that the victory of Khangura will sideline the traditional leadership," argued a senior Congress leader of the constituency.

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Dawar in election mode amidst chorus of development
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 14
Assured of being renominated as party candidate from Ludhiana East by the party high command, the sitting Congress MLA and Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Surinder Dawar, today launched his poll campaign in a well attended public meeting, organised in Ward No 58 by the area councillor, Mr Jasbir Singh Chadha.

While harping on the policies and programmes of the Congress Government in Punjab for the welfare of different sections of society during its tenure in general terms, Mr Dawar chose to focus on several major development projects, carried out in the Assembly segment represented by him during last five years.

Terming the propaganda by opposition parties of lack of development as a bundle of lies, he claimed that the Rs 51 crore elevated road project was completed recently, work had been taken in hand for coverage of open drain at a cost of Rs 16 crore, a 66-KV substation had been commissioned to improve power supply in several localities falling in Ludhiana East and public toilet blocks had been constructed.

Besides, several new tubewells and submersible pumps were sunk to augment water supply, roads had been recarpeted, sewerage and water supply network had been expanded and strengthened and street lights were provided in most of the colonies at a cost of several crores.

Making scathing attacks on the opposition parties, Mr Dawar charged them with closing their eyes to hard facts and indulging in criticism for the sake of criticism alone. "Rather than lending their constructive support to development works, the opposition leaders were hampering the process of development for their political motives."

The area councillor, Mr Chadha, lent further support to the claims of development made by Mr Dawar while expressing confidence that the Congress would score a resounding victory, not only from Ludhiana East but all over the state in the coming Assembly elections.

Prominent among others present at the meeting were Mr Kailash Kapoor, Mr Sanjay Talwar, both councillors, Mr Ashok Bagga, Mr Subhash Gaba, Mr Amarjit Singh Billa, Mr Gursharan Pappu, Mr Happy Tiger, Mr Mahesh Sharma, Mr Sanjay Minka, Mr Bittu Chadha, Ms Rani, Ms Dimple Verma and Mr Pawan Sharma.

Later, Mr Dawar addressed another public meeting in Shivaji Nagar in Ward No 59, which was convened by area councillor, Ms Anju Bagga.

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Ludhiana West: Prof Jagmohan Singh’s entry makes contest 3-cornered
KS Chawla

Ludhiana, January 14
The Ludhiana West segment of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha is now heading for a three-cornered fight with the nomination of Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) as official nominee of the Akali Dal headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

Prof Jagmohan Singh is a prominent urban Sikh leader and is associated with Sikh politics for the past 30 years.

The Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has already nominated Mr Harish Rai Dhanda, a local advocate, as its nominee from Ludhiana West and the Congress is yet to announce its nominee from this seat. But Mr Harnam Das Johar is sure to get renomination being a sitting MLA and he has already started his campaign in the segment. He is being opposed by a number of Congress leaders of the town but they are not expected to cut much ice in the campaign against him.

Ludhiana West has a sizeable Sikh vote and a majority of the voters are urban Sikhs. The fielding of Prof Jagmohan Singh from this constituency will make the contest quite fierce for both the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal candidates.

Prof Jagmohan Singh, who was born in Ludhiana, has been teaching commerce in a college at Mumbai and kept himself in touch with the political scene in Punjab. He shifted to Ludhiana in 1989 from Mumbai and since then he has been working in close association with Mr Simranjit Singh Mann for the Panthic cause. He was instrumental in the formation of the Panthic group which launched the Gurdwara Sudhar Lehar II in the month of October. He is also a good script writer and is an official spokeman of the Akali Dal (Amritsar). Being a popular urban Sikh leader he will cut the votes of Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress. Above all, he has a clean image and is trying his luck at the elections for the first time. He says he is confident of having the support of all Sikh groups in Ludhiana.

Meanwhile, all is not well with the BJP and it remains a divided house. The nomination of Mr Harish Bedi, official candidate of the BJP, from Ludhiana North constituency, has evoked a lot of resentment among the BJP leaders and workers and Mr Bedi is being labelled as an outsider.

The BJP has always found it difficult to find a candidate for Ludhiana North segment which is acceptable to the party rank and file.

The infighting in the BJP makes the task for the Congress candidate from this constituency, Mr Rakesh Pandey, a little easy. Mr Pandey has been lucky to win this seat three times in the past in a row and he has taken full advantage of being the son of Mr Joginder Paul Pandey who was gunned down by militants. The official announcement of Mr Pandey as the Congress candidate is expected any time.

Mr Satpaul Gosain, former Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, has been nominated from Ludhiana East constituency from where he has been elected twice and defeated once. Mr Gosain is a mature leader of the party and is likely to give a tough time to Mr Surinder Dawar of the Congress whose nomination is expected to be announced soon.

The BJP is also yet to reconcile to the nomination of Mr Harish Rai Dhanda from Ludhiana West constituency.

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Murder that confounded the police
Mahesh Sharma

Mandi Ahmedgarh, January 14
The CIA Jagraon police team is trying to corroborate the sequence of events leading to the murder of Yadvinder Singh whose body was found in the Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal on November 24, 2006 four days after he had gone missing from his residence at local Jawahar Nagar area.

As the accused, including Kulbir Singh, son of Roop Singh, a scooter mechanic of Pohir village, has since been sent to judicial custody. The police will focus its investigation on individuals whose calls on the mobile phone of the deceased were traced during investigations.

According to Mr Shiv Kumar Verma, SSP Jagraon, Kulbir Singh had allegedly killed Yadvinder Singh, by first poisoning him and then strangulating him with a rope on November 19. The accused, who was identified on the basis of calls made and received by the deceased, admitted to having committed the crime for robbing an expensive mobile, scooter and some cash from him (the deceased).

Preliminary investigations made successively by teams led by Mr Rachhpal Singh, SHO Dehlon, and Mr Prem Singh, in charge, CIA Jagraon, revealed that the accused had invited Yadvinder Singh to his village on the fateful day and had killed him by first poisoning and then strangulating him with a rope.

Referring to information received from the investigation team, Mr Verma said the accused had carried the body of the deceased to the canal on his scooter.

"After killing Yadvinder at a deserted house belonging to our neighbour, Gurdev Singh, I placed the body on the floor of the scooter and covered it with a sheet. Driving the scooter to canal bridge, I threw it into the canal thinking that it will be carried with the current and the murder will go untraced," told Kulbir to the police during investigation. As the water level was low, the body could not be carried away and was noticed by passersby four days after the incident. After identifying the accused, the police built up pressure on his family and he was ultimately presented before the investigation team by Mr Ujjagar Singh, a former Sarpanch of the village.

The police recovered two mobile phones (one belonging to the deceased) a scooter (PB 28 A 7443) and a piece of rope from the possession of the accused.

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Akali leader dies in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Khamano, January 14
One person died and another was injured in a road accident near the petrol station here.

Nirmal Singh Nambardar, a local Akali leader, and Mr Dilbagh Singh, both residents of Bilaspur village, were going on a scooter towards Sanghol when they were hit by a speeding WagonR car resulting in serious injuries to Nirmal Singh and minor injuries to Mr Dilbagh Singh. Nirmal Singh was rushed to Civil Hospital Khamano, from where he was referred to Ludhiana but he died on the way due to head injury. The Khamano police has registered a case.

Nirmal Singh’s body was cremated at Bilaspur.

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Youth dies in fall over elevated road
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 14
The low railings on the elevated road led to the death of a youth and injuries to two others when the motor cycle they were riding skidded and fell over the bridge near Kapoor Hospital late last night.

The deceased was identified as Vipin Kumar. He was 22. He was a resident of Railway Colony here. He worked in a private company. His two friends Mukesh and Gurpreet were rushed to the hospital and were reportedly out of danger.

The accident has vindicated news reports about the urgent need to erect high railings or walls at the edge of the elevated road.

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Ludhiana Calling

The Punjab Assembly elections are round the corner and the candidates who have been given tickets are working hard to woo the voters. Suddenly it seems the entire city has come in the election mode. Starting from putting up hoardings to flooding the media offices with pictures and lists of promises, the politicians are at it again. But residents are also aware that this ‘‘overactivity’’ is only short lived and the they would all become elusive as soon as the elections are over.

Costly gift voucher

People, especially women, often get lured with the gift vouchers offered by various companies. But certain gift vouchers cost dear. A friend was on top of the world to get a gift voucher worth Rs 1,050 by a skin and cosmetic clinic in Model Town. Without getting the details, the "proud owner" asked the attendants to give a good glowing facial, which included a few minutes massage and single face-pack. The demand of an additional Rs 700 more came as a rude shock to the poor client. When she asked, "A facial for Rs 1,750?", she was given the reply, "See the glow on your skin, madam. You should not mind spending a few more bucks to enhance your beauty".

True 'C(K)ar Sewa'

Till now there was a trend to write numbers on car in a unique and decorative manner. Even if they were challaned, the car lovers did not mind paying heavy penalties. But this car lover seems to be different from all in the sense that he is doing true "C(K)AR SEWA". On this steel grey Maruti Esteem bearing number PB-10-BG(T)-35/77 , "KAR SEWA" is written as emblem on the rear number plate. No doubt, the owner of the car seems to be doing true "Kar Sewa". (see picture)

Remembering cards

Every New Year, sending and receiving cards brings cheers to people. But how many of them get back to the sender to say thanks. A bureaucrat has an interesting experience to narrate. He had sent cards to several people, but only one person called back to say thanks. The grateful person gave the reason also. He had to pay Rs 8 postage on the card. The bureaucrat had affixed the required stamps which were stolen. And the man had to pay the money. So he made sure to thank the bureaucrat. A foolproof way to make somebody get back indeed.

Kite season

During Lohri, the skyline of the city becomes more of a rainbow with kites of various colours being flown by residents. Ludhianvis have a passion for the favourite Indian spring sport. Kites of all designs, shapes and colours are dotting the sky these days. Breezy winter afternoons with a little bit of sun provides a perfect stage for kite flying. The grounds which used to be full with cricket players are now overcrowded with kite-flying experts. Shopkeepers are having a brisk sale and are offering new designs and sizes of kites to attract the customers.

Wrong phone numbers

The aim of the city top police brass in improving the accessibility of the cops by pasting their mobile phone numbers on hoardings all over the city has backfired due to the frequent postings and transfers in the last six months. While earlier, the transfers were political or forced on disciplinary grounds, now the entire team of SHOs and chowki heads has been changed as per the guidelines of the state election commission. This has left the huge hoarding carrying over 25 names and phone numbers in bold letters quite obsolete, as all officials have changed. One wonders how passersby in the city would take help of the police from such hoardings.

Commercialisation

Police stations and schools are seldom clubbed in one group. But in the city, commercialisation has found common platform in both. Several schools and police stations have leased out space for advertisements on their walls and gates. It appears quite amusing to see advertisements of land developers, biscuits, cold drinks at these places. The name of the school as well as the police stations is painted in small font at the bottom of the boards.

Contributed by Kanchan Vasdev, Shivani Bhakoo and Jupinderjit Singh

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Tribune Impact
A day after, hoarding is gone
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 14
The Mata Rani Chowk office of the Punjab State Electricity Board today removed a hoarding highlighting the achievements of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in violation of the Model Code of Conduct.

The action comes in the wake of a news report carried in these columns today which highlighted the PSEB office’s violation of the code that had come into force a fortnight ago.

In spite of it being Sunday today, the authorities ordered the removal of the hoarding in the morning itself. Angle irons were all that remained at the scene after the hoarding was removed.

An attendant in the office said he had no knowledge of where the hoarding had gone. He said the hoarding was there yesterday but it was missing when he came to the office today. None of the officials of the PSEB was available for comments.

The hoarding bore pictures of Amarinder Singh, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and All-India Congress Committee chief Sonia Gandhi and listed the achievements of the Congress-led government in the state.

The Election Commission had recently banned the display of material pertaining to political parties in public offices after the implementation of the code.

At a recent meeting held by the Deputy Commissioner, all candidates and representatives of political parties were told not to put up hoardings, banners, pamphlets flags and buntings, which violated the model code, on government land, including buildings, roads, etc.

They were told that in the event of violation, the election material would be removed and the cost debited from the accounts of candidate concerned and the violation put in the record of the defaulter.

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Transformer breakdown in Ghumar Mandi on Lohri
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 14
Yesterday when Lohri was being celebrated with fun and frolic everywhere, residents of Ghumar Mandi, Major Sham Singh Road, HIG Flats, here experienced total darkness, as the main transformer broke down for more than eight hours. The irritated residents were filled with rage to see the lineman and other PSEB employees, present at the complaint office in Feroz Gandhi market, having drinks openly in the office.

Instead of attending patiently to the complaints of the general public, the "drunk" employees allegedly spoke rudely to the complainants.

The electricity supply to these areas was disrupted up to 7 p.m. A number of complaints by affected residents were lodged at the complaint office.

One of the complainants when asked the employees to restore electricity as soon as possible was given a rude reply, "What can we do if it is Lohri or some party at your place. You will get to know only when the problem is rectified. We are not sitting idle here".

An employee of the office disclosed that drinking in office was a routine affair when a particular lineman was on duty. "Today, being Lohri, he had invited his other friends also. But no one dares to counter him, as he does not listen to his seniors, too," said the person.

Mr Bhupinder Pal Singh Gill, a senior engineer, when contacted, said that it was surprising and shocking. He said, "I will take this matter seriously. If somebody is found guilty, I will take action against him.”

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No kite flying near Jamalpur substation, area residents told
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 14
Kite flying is a cherished pastime, especially during this time of the year. But the flip side is that the pleasure of some can result in discomfort to others, sometimes the entire city.

Owing to frequent power breakdowns, the district administration has urged people living in the vicinity of the 220 kV grid substation in Jamalpur, the main power source of the city, to stay away from kite flying.

Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta today urged people living in the surrounding areas of the substation not to allow their children to fly kites lest this should cause disruption of power supply from the grid.

The appeal has been made on a written request of the Superintending Engineer Operation and Maintenance Circle, BBMB.

He had stated that the disruption in power supply from the substation - the main source of power supply in the city - yesterday had been caused by kites being flown in the surrounding areas.

He said this had been repeated time and again and had resulted in tripping of transformers at the substation as well as damage of associated equipment, thus triggering tripping at various feeders emanating from the substation.

The Deputy Commissioner said in the larger interest of the city, parents must stop their children from flying kites in the localities falling in the vicinity. He cautioned that besides power failure, accidents could take place at transformers due to kite flying.

He added that sometimes children crossed roads recklessly in their bid to catch severed kites, leading to fatal accidents.

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Kite flying worries bird lovers
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 14
With a large number of birds falling prey to flying kites in January every year, bird lovers have appealed to local residents to avoid kite flying.

The plea has come in the wake of numerous reports of bird injuries caused by flying kites.

Stating that kite flying is a passion and deeply ingrained in our culture, CAPE India representative Sandeep K. Jain said it was causing injuries to a number of birds.

He said strings used for flying kites were coated with glass powder and more often than not birds hit these strings leading to fatal injuries.

“This traditional festivity proves fatal for thousands of birds every year. As celebration of Lohri is associated with kite flying in the city, a record number of kites are sold and flown during January, resulting in a dip in bird population in the city,” said Mr Jain.

Not only birds, but human beings too got injured by kites, he said. A number of commuters had reported injuries to the neck by falling kites.

While educating the masses on providing first aid to bleeding birds, Mr Jain said the bleeding could be stopped by gently pressing the wound with cotton dipped in cold water or by keeping fingers over wound.

Dust or foreign material could be removed but one should not wipe blood repeatedly.

The bird could be immobilised by wrapping a cloth/bandage gently around its body. The bird should be placed in a cardboard box, perforated at some places for ventilation.

This box should be sent to the PFA activists. A few drops of water could be put into its mouth or in case of severe bleeding, glucose could be added to water. In winter, the bird should be kept dry, he added.

“PFA centres are manned by volunteers. These volunteers have basic first aid knowledge to attend to the injured bird.”

“We want the district administration to ensure that kites are flown in open grounds only. It will save humans as well as birds from getting hurt,” said a bird lover.

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Good Samaritans this family’s only hope
Kuldip Bhatia

Ludhiana, January 14
Sukhwinder Singh led an ordinary life as truck driver until one day when all hell broke loose. The truck he was driving met with an accident on the Ferozepore road. He sustained multiple injuries with excessive blood loss, severe shock, bladder injury and little chance of survival.

He had to undergo emergency laparotomy to ascertain the abdominal injuries he had sustained.

Eventually, his right leg was amputated. He stayed in the ICU for four weeks on ventilator.

It was sheer hard work that enabled a team of doctors and nurses at the Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) to beat all odds and revive Sukhwinder.

Sukhwinder is currently recovering from his injuries and awaiting another major surgical procedure for his fractured right thigh bone.

With two daughters, aged 16 and 14 years, and a 9-year-old son to take care of, and Sukhwinder, the sole breadwinner of the family, confined to bed, the family is struggling to meet the cost of his treatment.

The family has exhausted all financial resources in the course of his treatment and the ongoing medical expenses have forced Sukhwinder to sell even his house.

Even though he is yet to undergo another operation, which would enable him to use prosthesis later, a bill of over Rs 1.5 lakh is outstanding.

According to doctors at the CMCH, Sukhwinder can only get back to work if he undergoes another surgery and have himself rehabilitated by a prosthesis.

Encouraged by his miraculous survival, Sukhwinder yearns to unite with his family and take up his responsibility as a breadwinner.

He is in dire need for moral and financial assistance from philanthropists and good Samaritans.

Those who wish to lend a helping hand to Sukhwinder may contact Medical Superintendent at the CMCH. Donations may be given through a crossed cheque in favour of “Christian Medical College, Ludhiana” with “Treatment of Mr Sukhwinder Singh” written on the reverse of cheques.

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Police-public meet organised
Our Correspondent

Khamano, 14 January
A police-public meeting was held at the Khamano police station under the command of new DSP Khamano Simratpal Singh.

He appealed to the people to be vigilant during the election time and warned that intoxicants and drugs would not be allowed during the election process and stern action would be taken against the offenders.

He also appealed to the people to deposit their licensed weapons in police station during the election time.

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2 panchayat members join SAD
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 14
As many as 15 families of Lakhanpur, including two panchayat members belonging to the Congress and BSP, joined the Akali Dal and pledged to support the Dal nominee from Samrala.

Addressing the gathering on this occasion, Jagjivan Khirnia charged the present government with failure on all fronts. He said the local MLA had done nothing for the people of Khamano.

The meeting was also addressed among others by Youth Akali Dal leaders Gurdeep Singh Ghuman and Balamjit Singh.

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